Inside Impact: The CKL Africa Story

“When I wake up in the morning, and I see my cows healthy and happy, I am happy”

“The milk I sell is what runs this household.” Leonard, a local dairy farmer from Kenya’s Kiambu County, has been taking care of his late father’s dairy cows for the past two years, but only recently has he seen the profitable side of being a dairy farmer. With a lack of adequate knowledge on good farming practice, he confesses to struggling initially to take care of the cows. In 2010, he reported averaging around 12 litres of milk per day from his 10 cows. That was until meeting Mr John Kariuki, a territory manager for CKL Africa, and part of the company’s impressive sales network. Mr Kariuki would guide Leonard on the proper products to use, and the best mode of application, over many months. Chief among these supplements would be Maclik Super.

Maclik Super is a proprietary animal supplement used by dairy farmers to provide their cows with crucial minerals to improve milk production. The product is manufactured and distributed over an elaborate supply chain before it makes it to the farmer as the ultimate end user. Before this happens, however, the product starts out as a number of separate minerals sourced from multiple suppliers globally.

The sourced components that form Maclik Super are then shipped to Kenya’s seaport in Mombasa, where they are transported inland by the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) to the country’s Internal Container Depot in Nairobi. Here, they are cleared, offloaded, and moved by road to CKL’s factory.

In Kenya’s Kiambu County, CKL Africa operates a state-of-the-art processing factory that produces animal nutritional products for farmers across Eastern Africa. The plant is the product of the company’s strategic partnership with AATIF, whose financing has enabled CKL to increase local production and meet the growing demand for quality supplements in the region. Peter Njuguna – the head of warehousing and logistics management for the company – has worked at CKL for the past 3 years. Peter, together with his team of 46 employees offload the raw materials once they arrive at the plant. CKL’s Quality and Regulatory Assurance Department then ensures that all quality processes and controls are observed before the imported elements – along with other locally sourced elements – are combined to form Maclik Super. In total, the factory produces around 550 MT – 600 MT of finished products every month.

After the mixing process, Maclik Super is packaged at the factory into different sized units ready for distribution. Orders are placed by the company’s network of distributors nationwide using an innovative mobile app, allowing the dispatch process to be seamless and efficient. It is around this point that Mr Stephen Muriuki – the company’s head of sales – comes in.

“My role is to avail the product to the farmer in the shortest time possible,” he articulates. Indeed, since 2018, it has been his prerogative to avail the product to each of CKL’s distributors – termed as Strategic Business Partners since they exclusively sell CKL products.

CKL distributors operate in various territories countrywide, making sure all of the company’s products reach its network of thousands of its stockists. Maclik Super is particularly popular in the Kiambu and Nyeri territories in Kenya, primarily due to the prevalence of dairy farming here in comparison to the rest of the country. Livestock keeping (and sales) is the dominant source of household income in Kiambu, accounting for more than half (55%) of overall household income.

It is in Kiambu County that Dr Lucy – proprietor of Vam Distributors – runs a tight ship to ensure that all CKL products are ready and accessible to the vast network of stockists she serves. “We operate a number of routes, and we serve quite a number of our stockists on a daily basis.” Her team of about 30 staff members work to take orders and load their trucks with the day’s expected orders from as early as 7am each day.

Each stockist is supplied to at least once a week, with the busier stockists being supplied to 3 times per week. Once on the stockist’s shelves, Maclik Super now becomes available to the farmer. In Kiambu, CKL products are also distributed through cooperative unions – a system whereby farmers can purchase goods such as supplements and household items by exchanging milk from their dairy cattle.

The largest cooperative – Githunguri Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society with an estimated 17,000 farmers – is located here, and it is through this system that Leonard accesses CKL products in exchange for milk.

Today, Leonard has 15 cows, and reports collecting 30-40 litres of milk from his cattle each day. With ‘zero-grazing’ farming as the most popular method of rearing livestock in Kiambu, Leonard has subsequently expanded his unit to hold more cows, as he anticipates the numbers to keep growing.

With renewed optimism, Leonard now aspires to be a full-time dairy farmer, running his home solely on milk sales. Selling milk as a means to run a household is a commonplace practice in the region, with a study finding that over 8,500 litres of milk per household were sold annually in Kiambu in this respect.

“When I inherited the cows, I was only making a net income of KES 4,000 a month and taking losses. Now, I make around KES 15,000 each month. I can educate my two children and take care of the household.”

Maclik Super may only be one of a wide number of products sold under CKL Africa’s brand. However, it is the perfect testament to the impact the company aspires to have on the lives of the farmers it serves, and those around them. “It is a generational brand. Our grandfathers and fathers used it, so its quality has stood the test of time,” says Ms Njeri, a CKL stockist in Kiambu. It is this quality that has allowed farmers like Leonard to build their livelihoods exclusively on the milk they sell, all while developing the sort of relationships that allow CKL to reach them directly on the ground.

“When I wake up in the morning, and I see and hear my cows healthy and happy, CKL gave that to me. When I get a cup of milk from my farm, I am proud, because this is my sweat!”

It is such instances of real impact in the lives of farmers like Leonard and countless others that AATIF strives for, and we are proud that through our financing of CKL Africa’s factory and operations, we are able to support livelihoods in meaningful ways.

1 - Githunguri Dairy Farmers Co-operative Society, Kenya | Stories
2 - AATIF Rapid Appraisal - Final Baseline Report for CKL Africa