Irene Moseti makes banana flavoured yoghurt in Mwamanwa village, Kisii County, under her business named Wefahason. The agriprenuer spoke to ‘Seeds of Gold’ about her hustle.
Where did the interest in dairy production come from?
I am a nutritionist having trained and completed my studies at Kisumu Polytechnic in 2012. But my interest in dairy started while growing up where I helped my parents take care of their cows.
Currently, I keep two Friesian cows. After attending several dairy trainings, I mobilised farmers in the village to start growing improved fodder grasses like desmodium, lucerne and brachiaria for better yields.
Soon, farmers began to get higher yields from their animals but this was dampened by lack of quality market.
It is then that the idea of value addition crossed my mind because it would help increase milk shelf-life.
So where did you get the value addition knowledge?
From my upbringing, I knew how to make fermented milk but yoghurt was my interest. Early 2019, upon advise from a close friend, who is a food scientist, I enrolled at the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (Kirdi) for milk value addition skills. I chose banana yoghurt because it was an unexplored field.
How was the start?
I took a loan of Sh25,000 from the Kenya Industrial Estate in Nyamira County to start processing yoghurt from my home, with the money going on bottles, fresh milk, cultures and bananas.
Three months into the business, I asked Kirdi to incubate me at their office in Kisii to enable me shift from household processing.
Luckily, they accepted and it was a great break since they have the technology to preserve milk and their experts monitored my progress.
I have lately acquired a milk pasteuriser, blending machine to extract juicy pulp from banana, filling machine and laboratory equipment. My products are also certified by Kenya Bureau of Standards.
Explain the yoghurt-making process?
Once the milk is received from farmers, it is tested for quality and then pasteurised. Later, we add culture to the milk which helps in the fermentation of sugars to produce lactic acid that gives yoghurt its texture and tart flavour. The yoghurt is then flavoured with the banana pulp and packaged.
How many litres of milk do you process in a day?
I buy 500 litres of milk from farmers at between Sh40 and Sh50 each. I use it make 250 bottles of yoghurt of different sizes. I make 500g that go for Sh100, a litre at Sh200 and five litres cost Sh950.
Currently, I work with a group of 50 farmers who supply me the milk and bananas at Sh20 a kilo. This has helped me improve their financial independence.
I have employed 12 more youths who help me in processing, packaging, marketing and distribution of the yoghurt in Kisii, Nyamira, Kisumu Kericho and Bomet.
Customers also place their orders according to the events they have like weddings, birthdays, church functions and family gatherings.
What big lesson have you learnt in the business?
The importance of networking with other producers in the field. For one to be successful, they must also be ready to invest plenty of time and money if they are to get maximum profit.
What are the challenges in the business?
Sometimes it is difficult to work with local farmers because most of them do not have knowledge of dairying and milk handling. Also, milk supply drops affecting production.
Can value addition put more money in farmers, entrepreneurs’ pockets?
Prof Erastus Kang’ethe, former lecturer at the University of Nairobi: Definitely there is more income in value addition and it creates job opportunities and minimises food wastage.
A litre of banana flavoured yoghurt costs more than the normal yoghurt or unprocessed milk. But the farmer has to invest in equipment, food safety policies and the market base.