Dairy farmers in Busia are embracing Artificial Insemination (AI) in breeding exotic cows to bridge the 40 million litres gap of milk deficit within the county, in an effort to attain the government big 4 agenda.
The County has therefore partnered with Kenya Crops and Dairy Market Systems KCDMS, Feeds Africa and Orion Farm care enterprise through Fixed Time Artificial Insemination, where farmers get improved calves that are of high yields.
USAID has announced Feed the Future Kenya Crops and Dairy Market Systems Activity is a five-year plan (October 2017- September 2022), designed to facilitate improved productivity and development of competitive, resilient, and sustainable dairy and horticulture market systems in selected counties in Eastern and Western regions of Kenya.
Speaking in Sidende area, Bukhayo West ward in Nambale Sub County, Denis Odhiambo, a Veterinary Doctor in Busia, said they have reached to over 3,000 farmers within the county who have embraced AI technology with a view to improve breed that is more profitable with a potential yield of producing over 20 litres of milk per cow in a day compared to indigenous breeds.
“We managed to reached out to over 3,000 farmers within Busia County with the help of KCDMS, already 1500 have been inseminated trough Fixed Time Artificial Insemination. Through the process we already have 150 calves and a number of in-calves,” said Odhiambo.
“In this programme we advise farmers to keep few cows but which can produce more in terms of milk and money,” he said.
Odhiambo noted that despite the climatic condition in Busia County, which is normally hot and very hostile to dairy farming, farmers adopt the technology to produce calf that are adaptive to the environment.
“In Busia and other surrounding areas milk productivity have been very low, but with this new improvement it has really improved,” he added.
He encouraged the young generation to engage in farming, especially dairy to supply milk to the plant for value addition.
Busia County officer in charge of Dairy Farming, Radoli Shiundu who was also present noted that dairy farming is one of the majorly prioritized projects and being carried out in the county.
In support of this project, the county government has distributed about 1,600 dairy cows to farmers in every ward for the past 5 years now. Busia County has developed two dairy Parks in Butula and Teso North sub counties
“We have put in place more strategies to improve dairy farming such as donating cows known as Heifer breeds to farmers which produce close to 20 litres of milk per day,” said Shiundu.
Shiundu confirmed that since the introduction of this breeds of cows into the wards, milk productivity has risen from 26 million litres to 32 million litres in the county, which is a great improvement.
“We also give seeds to farmers for the dairy feeds which helps in feeding our indigenous cows in the villages in order to produce high yields,” noted Shiundu.
He also thanked the county government through the leadership of the Governor Sospeter Ojaamong for creating employment opportunities to the youth employed as extension officers in various wards in the county to educate farmers on dairy farming.
The KCDMS Production Director, Seth Byake added that they seek to contribute significantly to the achievement of the Global Food Security Strategy (GFSS) goals of poverty reduction, enhanced nutrition social inclusion and resilience in Kenya.
“We seek to promote Kenya-led, Kenya-owned, and Kenya managed programming to stimulate change and growth across multiple sectors also support farmers by giving them fodder varieties which are adaptable to the environment of Busia,” he said.
Byake noted that they also provide private sector players with infrastructure to ensure accessibility and availability of accessories supporting insemination process are available locally thus reducing the cost of doing business with Busia farmers.
Joyce okwara, a farmer from Sidende in Nambale Sub County who is a beneficiary of this project said that her life has changed a lot since she started dairy farming. She is now able to sustain her family with profit from the intervention.
Okwara thanked the county government for introducing the project and encouraged other farmers to join the project, as this will change their lives for good.
By Absalom Namwalo and Frodah Namayi