Assessment of the Performance of Small-Scale Dairy Farming in Meru County, Kenya
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Despite the apparent importance of the dairy sub-sector to Kenya’s economy, the sector is plagued with low milk production. The general objective of the study was to assess dairy performance among the small-scale farmers in Meru County. The specific objectives were (i) to characterize small-scale dairy farmers; (ii) to assess the profitability of small-scale dairy enterprises; and (iii) to determine the factors influencing profitability among small-scale dairy farmers in Meru County. The research used cross-sectional design where 150 small-scale dairy farmers were selected from the subgroups using simple random sampling technique. Gross margin analysis was used to analyse profitability while multiple linear regression analysis using ordinary least square method was used to determine the factors influencing dairy profitability. The mean age of dairy farmers in Meru County was 45.7 years with 92% being men who are the household heads. 92% of the farmers had formal education and 68% had experience of more than 10 years. The average household size was 5 members. Only 29.3% of farmers had applied for a dairy enterprise development loan. Most of the farmers were members of groups and had attended dairy farming trainings. Dairy in Meru County was characterised by intensive farming technologies for instance zero grazing system. The average land size under dairy was 0.7 acres and the average herd size was 3 cows. Results also show that there is potential for increased small-scale dairy performance in Meru County. Dairy farming was profitable with farmers receiving an average gross margin of Ksh. 5,299 per cow per month. The model shows that herd size, education level and credit access have significant influence on dairy profitability. In view of the study findings the study recommends that the policy makers should take initiative in enacting laws aimed at lowering the cost of inputs thus reducing production costs. Secondly the study recommends that the government should prioritize investing in farming as a way of promoting employment to the population. The study also recommends use of alternative improved feed such as homemade dairy ration to reduce feed cost as one way of maximizing profits from small-scale dairy farming. Finally, the study recommends that policy intervention should be aimed at establishing breeding centers for dairy cows in order to enable farmers increase herd size, formulation of laws which can help farmers get access to loans in order to invest in dairy farming and transfer of knowledge through provision of extension services to educate farmers on dairy management.