Milk production is an important livelihood source for smallholder dairy farmers in low-to-middle-income countries (LMICs) such as Kenya. However, milk quality and safety are a challenge due to unhygienic handling and non-adherence to food safety standards. The objective of this study was to investigate the knowledge, attitudes and adoption of milk quality and food safety practices by smallholder farmers in Kenya. Ten Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), involving 71 smallholder farmers, were held to collect qualitative data on knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAPs) of smallholder dairy farmers in Laikipia, Nakuru, and Nyandarua counties. Additionally, data were collected through a cross-sectional administered to 652 smallholder farming households. The results of the study revealed low knowledge level and negative attitudes towards respecting antibiotics treatment withdrawal periods, milk quality standards and food safety regulations. Farmers stated they had received low levels of training on milk quality and safety standards. The majority of farmers adopted animal health measures and hygienic measures such as hand washing and udder cleaning. However, unhygienic milking environments, the use of plastic containers, the use of untreated water, and lack of teat dipping compromised milk quality and safety. Currently, milk production, handling and consumption could expose actors along the dairy value chain to health risks. The adoption of milk quality and food safety practices was influenced by farmers’ knowledge, socioeconomic characteristics, and choice of marketing channel. There is a need to improve farmers’ knowledge and attitudes and implement hygienic control, disease control and antibiotic residue control practices in the milk production process to meet required milk quality and food safety standards. Awareness campaigns and training programmes for smallholder dairy farmers could foster behavioural change and lead to an improvement in milk quality in Kenya.
- Food safety
- Food security
- Fresh milk
- Good agricultural practices (GAPs)
- Value chains