Vendor Business School hosts workshop for women milk vendors to mark World Food Safety Day

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World Food Safety Day is celebrated on 7 June every year to raise awareness on food safety and inspire action to help prevent and manage foodborne risks. This year, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in partnership with Kenya Dairy Board (KDB) and CGIAR Resilient Cities Initiative, commemorated the day by convening a food safety workshop for women milk vendors at ILRI’s Nairobi campus.

More than 100 women milk vendors currently enrolled in the Resilient Cities Vendor Business School (VBS) met to celebrate their important role as guarantors of food security in the country. VBS provides them with vital knowledge and skills to overcome the challenges of their daily business operations and improve food safety.

Milk, being a highly perishable product, requires stringent safety measures to prevent contamination and ensure it remains safe for consumption. The theme for this year’s World Food Safety Day celebrations, ‘Prepare for the unexpected’, acknowledged the vital role women play in the local diary industry and emphasized the importance of readiness and resilience in food safety.

Designed to challenge and refresh the vendor’s understanding of critical aspects of milk safety, the two-hour workshop comprised thought-provoking questions, engaging activities and interactive discussions. The aim was to sharpen the women milk vendors’ knowledge and skills on safe milk handling and distribution and inform them of the support available from KDB.

The board is committed to helping women vendors become successful dairy entrepreneurs through capacity building and offering guidance on how they can apply for the KDB permit. This permit not only allows the dispensing and sale of dairy produce but also facilitates regular inspection of business premises to ensure compliance to safety standards.

A notable highlight of the event was the insightful contribution from Stephen Murimi, the KDB communications manager, who spoke on behalf of managing director Margaret Kibogy. Underscoring key programs and initiatives to enhance food safety, Murimi emphasized the board’s commitment to ensuring that the Kenyan dairy industry remains vibrant and sustainable, and produces safe commodities.

‘Food safety is a shared responsibility between the government, producers and consumers. Everyone has a role to play from farm to table to ensure the food consumed is safe and will not damage our health,’ he said.

Testimonials from three women vendors who have benefited from the business school program added a personal touch to the workshop. During the session led by Elizabeth Njoroge, a VBS trainer and coach, the women spoke about how the program had significantly impacted their lives, enhancing their communication skills and equipping them with the know-how to keep milk safe.

Lucy Ambeyi, one of the vendors, shared: ‘The coaching helped me start my milk business in September 2022. I joined the training because of my passion for knowledge on safe milk.’

To close the workshop, a practical session demonstrated various techniques surrounding milk purification, providing hands-on experience that reinforced the vendors’ theoretical knowledge. ILRI’s dairy vendor event celebrated the importance of food safety while empowering women milk vendors with the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in their industry. By fostering an environment of learning and support, ILRI and its partners are helping to ensure a safer, more sustainable future for the dairy industry in Kenya.

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The Vendor Business School (VBS) serves as a platform for empowering small food vendors and equipping them with the necessary knowledge, skills and resources to overcome the challenges they face in their day-to-day business practices. By providing targeted training, mentorship and access to business support services, the VBS aims to enhance the entrepreneurial capacity of small food vendors, with an emphasis on women, promote inclusive economic growth and contribute to the overall resilience of the urban food system. Through the collaboration of various stakeholders, including local government authorities, academic institutions and community organizations, the Vendor Business Schools can play a vital role in fostering a supportive and conducive environment for the sustainable development of small food businesses in the targeted cities.

Author: Ruby Wachira, ILRI

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