Four years ago, Peter Ng’eno won a lucrative tender to do some networking and cabling works at the Bomet County’s government offices. He holds a certificate in electrical wiring.
He viewed this opportunity, which he secured thanks to the 30 per cent allocation of tenders to youth, women and the disabled, as the golden ticket to finally free himself of a life of want.
Upon completing the job, the 31-year-old decided to invest his Sh400,000 profit into an income generating project from which he sought a reasonable monthly return, he says.
Having grown up grazing cows in Saunet Village in the county, he naturally settled on dairy farming.
He bought two grade cows at Sh60, 000 each with a daily production capacity of 20 litres per day.
“The problem with our village is that livestock owned by an individual or a community are supposed to first benefit the villagers. Commercialising them is secondary,” he says.
But the villagers’ demand for free milk almost ruined him. He soon realised he was never going to realise his enterprise dream in the dairy sector if he did not move.
He ditched this venture and shopped for a quarter acre piece of land in the outskirts of Bomet town.
“The piece of land cost Sh200,000. I used a further Sh100,000 to build a temporary house and a cowshed. I was now free to venture into dairy enterprise for profit,” he says.
At the onset, Mr Ng’eno and his wife Phancy Chepkemoi would make approximately Sh15, 000 net income, giving them the impetus to improve their stock.
In 2014, the duo sold off two grade cows and replaced them with a pedigree breed, doubling their daily milk collection to 40 litres. Their net income grew to Sh42,600.
“We were indeed getting somewhere,” says Ms Chepkemoi.
After doing research about the demand points across the town, the couple secured a tender to supply a hotel with milk at Sh50 per litre, setting their business on a growth trajectory.
However, they retained New KCC as their primary market as they sought the extra sale avenues. Soon, demand outstripped supply and they had to buy more cows to keep up.
“By 2016, we had improved our breed to five pedigrees and milk production was hitting 150 litres per day. Hotels were paying us Sh60 per litre,” says Ms Chepkemoi, adding that due to the current drought, it has increased to Sh70 a litre.
The couple’s returns are currently more than Sh200,000 per month. However, Mr Ng’enosays there are some new and tough challenges cropping up in the sector.
“Animal feed prices are going up at an alarming rate and quality is increasingly being compromised . We are facing a challenge of counterfeit veterinary products and the cost of treating our cows is going up every day,” he says.