Dairy farmers in Kenya now have a chance to foster wealth creation, thanks to a research and technology transfer project being implemented at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. The initiative to promote commercial production and consumption of probiotic yoghurt is currently under pilot in six counties, supporting 16 farmer groups.
According to the lead researcher, Pamela Odhiambo, the Fiti Probiotic Yoghurt programme targets 40, 000 women farmers and youth groups in rural Kenya; and involves training as well as supply of yoghurt making products.
“Besides boosting economic returns of our rural communities, the initiative also targets health promotion among the consumers of the products,” Odhiambo explained.
Probiotic products carry useful micro-organisms that can shield the body from both communicable and non-communicable diseases.
“The product also facilitates digestion, boost immunity and has proven useful in urinary tract health,” Dr. Arnold Onyango of JKUAT Food Science Department.
Through a funding by the Canadian International Development Research Centre, the initiative has developed 1 gram sachets of microbial content that can ferment 100 litres of fresh milk into yoghurt.
Ms Odhiambo added that the ambitious technology transfer and capacity building undertaking is also developing a pro-poor business model that can further boost efforts by rural communities to shake off poverty using dairy products.
The project christened “Fermented Food For Life”, brings together multidisciplinary teams drawn from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Netherlands and Canada.