Description of policy shift addressed
Dairy policy in Kenya, both in terms of written policy and its implementation, has been based on an industrialised 'cold-chain' model of large-scale production and marketing. However, this does not reflect the reality of the dairy sub-sector, which is predominantly based on smallholder production, and which sees some 86% of marketed milk going through the 'informal' sector of small-scale traders in raw (unpasteurised) milk. This informal sector is the source of livelihoods for hundreds of thousands of producers and market agents, as well as a source of affordable milk for millions of poor consumers. However, the approach taken by regulators and policy makers had been to try, unsuccessfully, to stamp out this informal sector.
Following extensive research characterising the sub-sector and addressing issues such as employment generation, addressing public health risks, and identifying key issues affecting cost of production, the Smallholder Dairy Project and its advocacy partners argued for a rational engagement with this informal sector, so that standards and public health concerns could be addressed whilst still allowing a vibrant informal sector to continue to support both producers and consumers.
Against much opposition from powerful private vested interests, the last 2 years (2004 - 2006) have seen a major shift in the way the government and regulators address the informal sector. Instead of trying to stamp it out, there is active engagement to train and license traders, and to encourage them to develop their businesses through business development services.