Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Margaret Ruguru: I turned to yoghurt production after making losses selling dairy milk

Margaret Ruguru is a dairy farmer who started practising more than 20 years ago. She worked at one of the dairy cooperatives in Murang’a, which taught her dairy milk processing knowledge.

In the beginning, Margaret started with just one cow, and over the years, her herd grew. At first, marketing her produce wasn’t a challenge. Dairy farming was simply a way for her to earn some extra income.

Co-Op post

Things took a turn when she lost her job in 2007 rendering her jobless. She turned her focus entirely on her dairy farm located in Gatanga, Murang’a County.

She would sell her milk locally. Misfortune struck when one of her contractors, a hotel, cancelled their agreement.

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“The management claimed they had a lot of cows calving, so the milk problem was solved,” she said in an interview.

Ruguru found herself at a crossroads after losing the hotel business. With her cows producing up to 200 litres of milk a day, she struggled to find the market. Without a consistent market, this often resulted in losses.

She says that due to the high volumes of milk, she often ended up feeding it to domestic animals. Margaret Ruguru sought help from the Murang’a County Livestock Department, which provided her with assistance.

“An officer who later became my mentor connected me with Mariira Agricultural Show Farm in Murang’a, a facility that offers training in dairy production, including milk processing,” she said.

Through the agricultural show, she was introduced to milk processing value addition, which brought her a light bulb moment.

Together with 50 other farmers, Margaret Ruguru received training from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in 2016.

Esther Kituyi: I started my small yoghurt-making business with Sh. 1,000

Today, she and her husband are the owners of Sky Blue Farmlands, a yoghurt processing company, with its flagship brand named Highlands. Through this business model, Margaret minimized the losses she experienced from selling raw milk.

Sky Blue Farmlands produces two flavors of probiotic yoghurt: vanilla and strawberry. Importantly, her production facility is set up on a 100 x 80-meter plot of land, which also incorporates cows, improved indigenous chickens, fish, and fodder crops.

Today, her target market consists of wholesale enterprises such as supermarkets and food and beverage outlets. She actively promotes her products by attending agricultural shows.

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