Kenya is hosting the first African bovine reproduction workshop at Kitale’s Endebess bull station with over 10 countries represented for exchange of ideas on reproduction through new technologies in the sector.
While opening the two-day workshop in Kitale on Tuesday, the Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), Andrew Tuimur said the workshop will provide a platform for showcasing high technology equipment.
He said the efficient use of technologies will help in efficient, hygienic, easy to trace semen production and in solving common cattle reproductive challenges.
Tuimur said the exchange of ideas and knowledge on the new technologies is important in the area especially when the country established the Kitale bull station which is automated and relies on modern technology to extract semen, store and disseminate to farmers.
He said the Endebess Bull station was built four years ago and is a state-of-the-art semen production unit which is a modern facility of its kind in the whole of Africa and is a second station from the one in Kabete.
“We have had one bull station in Kenya since 1946 in Kabete and there have been fears that if there is disease outbreak we risk not having any semen and that is why we decided to have another semen production unit in Kitale,” he noted.
He added, “It has a state of the art equipment which we got from France after officers scouted, they went around in various countries and France IMV Technologies was found to be the most appropriate for this place and the equipment in the bull station which is automated is very modern actually becoming one of the modern bull stations in Africa,” he added.
The CAS said that the Unit can produce up to a million doses of semen when it is in full operation which is enough to serve Kenya and some of the neighbouring countries.
He said that in its full capacity, the Bull station will have about 100 bulls, noting that there is more space for introducing more bulls.
Turimur said in the next phase the government is considering going into sexed semen production so that farmers who want to get heifers can use sexed semen.
He said the ultimate idea is to ensure that farmers get semen at a lower price, noting that currently farmers’ semen is sold at the facility at Sh. 200 per straw.
“With time we are looking at the production cost so that the price may be brought down so that the facility may be of benefit to the farmers,” he explained.
According to Tuimur the nitrogen equipment at the station will help farmers store semen for future use which he said will cut down on transport cost
He said the bull station is an important facility for the country as it is aimed at improving on the quality of animals and generally dairy production.
“Our request to farmers is to encourage them to buy high quality semen at affordable prices at the Endebbes bull station,” he noted.
He said the tests they have made using the semen from the bulls introduced at the station show that the heifers produced are producing more than 10 000litres of milk per lactation.
The Chairman of ADC, Benjamin Cheboi said the facility is one of the projects that supports the Big4 Agenda of President Uhuru Kenyatta to the country.
“We think that this is a legacy project for the government,” the Chairman said.
He said the direct impact of the project on ordinary Kenyans is visible where, by the end of next year the facility will be producing more than 1million straws of semen which means that the country shall have better quality animals and thus increased milk production.
“What else do you need, with a million cows produced every year we are going to increase the volume of milk perhaps by more than 40million litres every year and that is of direct economic significance to the nation,” he said.
He explained that with the project in place there are high chances of creating employment and reducing poverty among Kenyans.
“For the people of North Rift and particularly Trans Nzoia this is the greatest asset that has come here and we want to request the county government to use extension officers to educate farmers on the need to use AI services.,” he pointed out.
Among the visiting countries were Zambia, Rwanda and Zanzibar among others.
By Pauline Ikanda