Friday, October 26, 2007

Milk Run!

This week we had the opportunity to go on the milk run with the Wakulima Dairy and talk to the farmers about the impact the Dairy has had on their families and community. The run started at 11 am when we met our driver Bernard at the Dairy.
There are 2 milk runs for the dairy every day. One starts at 3am and the other starts at 11am. There are 4 truck routes, and some people that live close to the dairy take it directly there. We COULD have gone on the route that started at 3am...but I needed my beauty sleep you know! The route we took in the truck with Bernard took 4 hours and we had 30 pickups and collected 2500 litres.

Luckily it wasn’t raining so the roads weren’t terrible, but in the long rainy season (April and May) they have a big problem with the trucks getting stuck on the roads, and thus, the milk will spoil sitting in the truck. The dairy has even fixed some of the roads themselves because the government would not. Bernard told us that the Dairy has discussed getting refrigerated trucks so that spoiled milk will not be a problem.

When the Dairy first started in 1991, their first milk shipment was 35 litres from 32 members. Now, they collect 27,000 litres daily.

The 3am milking goes to the Dairy where it is cooled in the tank which was bought by Farmers Helping Farmers. The 11am milking goes directly to the processing plant, Brookside, which is about 60 km away. Before the cooling tank was added, milk was only picked up once a day because the evening milk would spoil before they could get it to the processor.
So back to the milk run.... on each truck there is a quality control person, a recorder, and a helper. They sit in the back with the milk cans. The truck has scheduled stops along the road. Everyone waits there with their pink milk production card and their can of milk. Most of them have between 5 and 10 litres of milk at each pickup. Their milk is weighed, and then recorded on their production card. The card is passed into the dairy at the end of each month and then the money is put directly into their bank account at the Wakulima SACCO .

It was really neat- everyone on the route knew who we were (the farmers from Canada), and kept coming up to us and thanking us for all the Canadians have done for them. It is one thing to see the funds that have been invested into the Dairy, but it means so much more when the people who were most affected by the improvements, personally thank you for making their lives better.

Oh, and our driver – Bernard. He has been working at the Dairy for 3 years. He was previously a driver in Nairobi for 7 years. He is at the dairy at 2am for the first milk run, and doesn’t return until 10 pm, after he take the afternoon milk to the processor. He works for 25 days, and then gets 5 days off. His family lives 10 km away from the Dairy, but he can’t live there because it is too far away and he has no means of transportation. He travels home for 5 days every month. If it wasn’t for the Dairy, Bernard would still be working in Nairobi as a driver and sending money home to his family – like so many in these areas do. Now, he can go home and see his family on a regular basis. He also contributes to the local community.

This coming week we are happy that Dr. LaCroix from UPEI will be joining us. We have lots to show him and are looking forward to his arrival on Sunday!

Until next time,
Julie Mutch

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