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Kenya may be forced to import processed milk products following a monthly drop in the milk supply from 63.4 million liters in January to 40.2 million liters in June, a government official said on Wednesday.

Peter Munya, cabinet secretary for agriculture, livestock, fisheries and cooperatives blamed the shortage of raw milk sold to processors by farmers on a drastic drop in farm production and sale of raw milk in the informal sector.

“We are in distress. If this situation continues, we shall be forced to import milk products, which we do not want to,” Munya said in Nairobi during a sector review meeting by the Kenya Dairy Board.

Munya called on farmers to intensify the production of milk and ensure that the milk is marketed formally to sustain more than 750,000 jobs created by the sector.

“This will ensure that we build on the gains made so far in the sector and can absorb shocks arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to assure farmers that the government and my ministry, in particular, will continue supporting them to ensure that they get a favorable return on their investments,” he said.

Kenya faced raw milk oversupply towards the end of last year and early this year, which, combined with milk imports from the East Africa Community halved the price of raw milk paid to farmers, a review by the board showed.

Despite the government imposing a 10 percent on milk imports to protect local farmers and setting a minimum price for raw milk processors to pay farmers, supply has continued to drop.

Nixon Sigey, managing director of the state-owned milk processor, New KCC said the situation is so dire that they are operating at 40 percent of their capacity.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows that the sector is a source of livelihood to some 1.8 million smallholder farmers.

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