Twenty-six groups including individual farmers from Malaba Central in Teso North Constituency have received 26 in-calf heifers worth Sh2.6 million provided by the Ward Development Fund.
Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong, who presided over the hand-over ceremony in Malaba town on Friday, urged farmers to shift from rearing indigenous to exotic dairy breeds which are high yielding.
He said the county government initiated the program in order to increase milk production in the county, boost farmers’ earnings and make them self-reliant.
“If through the project farmers produce more milk, we shall be able to establish cottage industries and if the production increases further we shall develop factories to process more milk products.
Our main objective is to see farmers shift to modern farming practices so that they can produce adequate food, milk and generate enough income to alleviate poverty,” Ojaamong said.
The County Executive for Agriculture Moses Osia said the county government through the Ward Development Fund has since the 2018/2019 financial year to date distributed over 1,000 heifers to farmers across the county.
“We intend to give out another batch of 408 dairy cows before the end of this financial year. From the earlier distributed cows, already 350 have produced calves and 40 of the calves are ready for passing-on.
“Additionally, through the program we have managed to raise our annual milk production capacity from 27 million to 31 million litres in the past three years against the county’s demand of 60 million litres,” Osia explained.
Noting that agriculture is the backbone of the county’s economy, Osia said through the dairy program the county aims to combat food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty.
He urged Malaba Central ward beneficiaries to capitalize on the increasing population in Malaba town and turn around their economic fortunes as the demand for milk increases.
The Chief Officer for Livestock, Fisheries and Agribusiness, Moses Weunda said the dairy project is set to transform livestock farming and the economic well-being of farmers across the county.
Weunda said the ultimate objective is to promote value chain where ward representatives will combine efforts with the executive to boost milk production in their respective wards and to enable farmers embrace value addition to produce a variety of milk related products.
The area Member of County Assembly Bernard Papa said he is committed to ensuring residents benefit from the county government programs.
“Our wish would have been to give out as many cows as possible across the ward but because of budgetary constraints we cannot. So far we have distributed 34 cows within the ward, 8 last year and 26 today,” Papa said.
He told the beneficiaries that it is only through proper management of the cows that they can reap immensely.
Among the recipients of the grant included 89-year old farmer, Barnabas Nyapara, Nancy Okuche (widow) and Joseph Isogol (person living with disability).
They hailed the Ward representative for the project saying it will play a great role in transforming their socio-economic well-being.
The county dairy heifers program is aimed at increasing milk production, providing quality dairy breeds to farmers, improving incomes through increased production, promoting commercial fodder production, conservation and empowering women, youth groups and persons living with disabilities.
By Melechezedeck Ejakait and Mark Anyang