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Benton’s Affordable Solution To Dairy Cow Feeds And Guaranteed High Milk Yields.

Dairy farming has over the years grown tremendously in Kenya with so many people now making it a full time business venture. The smallholder dairy production in the country is estimated to constitute 57% of the total milk production spread out to over 625,000 small-scale farmers.

Though the informal dairy market remains vitally important to most of the small-scale farmers in the country, poor productivity in the animals has been attributed mainly to limited access to the right feeds due to farmers’ limited resource base lack of knowledge.

One firm, LishaBora Hydroponics based in Githunguri Kiambu County identified this problem and started creating a dairy feed that is nutritious and affordable to majority of the farmers who basically earn less than $2 USD (sh. 250) a day.

Graham Benton, the founder and Managing Director reckons that the biggest challenge facing the small dairy farmers emanates from the bureaucracy and the systems in which they operate, thus their reason to try and break down the product distribution model and supply chain of the dairy industry in the country.

“What LishaBora does is to take barley grain and sprout it using hydroponic technology to produce a complete cow feed solution which we later deliver it to small holder dairy farmers on a daily basis. We provide them with everything that the cow requires at a very affordable price. We add all the micronutrients to the fodder, mix them together in a rationed proportion and deliver them to the farmers,” said Benton.

“Our products range from sh. 4,000 and 7,000 per month per cow. The sh. 4,000 package is for the lower producers that produce between 6-10kg of milk per day. There is a sh. 5,000 package for cows producing around 10-15kg of milk daily. For the larger producers that are above 15kg per day we sell them for sh. 7,000 per month per cow,” he explains.

Apart from selling the feeds to these farmers, LishaBora also educate their clients by disseminating essential information that they need to make good business decisions and become profitable dairy farmers.
Benton points out that farmers have very little knowledge in nutritional content of feeds required by their dairy cows. Most of the feeds they get in the market are unregulated and do not meet the minimum specification for nutrient value since suppliers are only out to make a kill in profits.

“The fodder we sell increases milk production by more than 20% due to its high nutrient value. Ours is not about the money. We actually want to make a very large impact in the lives of these farmers,” he says.

LishaBora currently produces about 1,000kg of production a day. After realising that the hydroponic systems are very expensive, difficult to maintain and very challenging for farmers run one, Benton decided to set up this firm in January 2015 where for the last six months now, they have been selling the end product to the farmers.

The company, which currently has a workforce of 10 people, is operating their first, full sized greenhouse but plans to expand the business within the next one year so as to enable them reach more farmers in Kiambu County and eventually the whole country.

“Right now we are based in Githunguri and just selling to that local market there. We want to expand and move into the broader Githunguri and broader Kiambu County area including Thika Town in the coming year,” said Benton.

Hydroponic fodder system is a temperature and humidity controlled growing room that is specifically designed to sprout grains that are very nutritious. It is the technique of growing plants without soil or solid growing medium, but using water or nutrient-rich solution only for a short duration. The fodder production unit must have a greenhouse that has perforated trays for soaked seeds and pipes fitted with micro-foggers to maintain the required humidity and water fogging of the seed trays. A sensor-controlled unit automatically regulates the water input and light.

Due to the increase in the prices of cow feeds and the shrinking land sizes, this technology offers a great substitute to packaged cattle feed. Growing fodder hydroponically is more efficient than any other means of producing feed for livestock. It demands minimal labour, is lower in operation costs, guarantees high yields in a small area and also reduces feed storage costs.

Globally, hydroponic fodder is considered to be the best livestock feed. It is very nutritious and guarantees maximum protein and energy. It is also very rich in vitamins such as B-carotene, trace elements, hormones, growth factors and enzymes.

To get in touch with LishaBora Hydroponics, you can visit their website www.lishabora.com or email Graham via graham@lishabora.co.ke. You can also engage them on Facebook and on Twitter.

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