Vending machines seem to be popping up all over Kenya. Residents choose to buy milk from the machine they call an ATM simply because the price is cheaper. Shop owners prefer to use ATMs because they are easy to use, maintain and use little electricity. The ATM sells various products, from milk, cooking oil to water.
Amos Njeri, a dairy farmer from Kiambu District in Kenya, starts his morning by cleaning the cowsheds and feeding the cows. He then milked the cows manually with the help of an employee. The milk is then filtered, pasteurized, poured into large milk bottles and ready to be shipped. He sells the milk to a retailer who then sells the milk through an ATM.
Previously, cattle ranchers were often exploited by brokers who bought milk at very low prices. The existence of these ATMs is now helping cattle farmers increase their profits. The milk is sent to a dairy ATM where the seller sells the milk directly to the buyer. The milk is stored in a refrigerator behind a locked ATM machine, to prevent theft.
Erick Andino, a shop owner in Kawangware, one of the slums in Nairobi, Kenya, said, “The advantage of this ATM machine is that it is easy to maintain and serves customers very quickly. This milk is placed behind the ATM machine, so it is still fresh, even customers can get it. drink it straight away. This milk comes from the farm and costs 10 cents.”
However, the dairy products in the ATM machine can pose a health risk. This is because the hygienic conditions of milk bottles from the time they are collected, shipped and sold, do not meet the health standards issued by the Kenya Animal Husbandry Council, said Martin Njagi, quality assurance officer at the Limuru Dairy farmer cooperative.
Michael Njuguna, director of Neema Technologies Ltd, the company that makes the dairy ATM said, “Nowadays, you find that a lot of farmers, especially here in Kenya, they have not applied materials according to food safety standards so they end up using unhygienic plastic containers as well. You can’t guarantee that it’s hygienic because you can’t clean it well, even with hot water and other detergents.”
The Njuguna company manufactures ATM machines that cost about $600-$700 and sells them for $950. “But apart from the convenience that ATMs provide for dairy farmers, sellers and customers, food hygiene needs to be considered,” said Njagi. [lj/uh]