Livestock farmers in Laikipia County have been urged to take advantage of the ongoing rainfall to plant enough feeds for their livestock, as extension officers decried understaffing.
Speaking in his office, Igwamiti Ward Extension Officer Simon Mureithi, advised farmers to plant more fodder that can be conserved and used in future when the rains dwindle.
“Some parts of Laikipia County are semi-arid and experience little or no rainfall. Thankfully, at the moment, many parts are experiencing reliable rainfall. This is a good sign to livestock farmers to plant more feeds for their livestock. Weather affects livestock in a big way with almost 100% of livestock depending on rain fed feeds. When the weather is poor or dry, farmers experience low productivity, while on the other hand, when the weather is favorable productivity increases,” added Mureithi.
He also noted that, several improvements in livestock production in the region have been witnessed courtesy of farmers training which is enabled by the extension officers through organised field days, trade fairs, demonstrations and bench markings with other successful farmers even those outside their region.
He commended the government for ensuring the prices of milk and other livestock products had risen as compared to the last five years. This in turn has encouraged many young people to venture into livestock farming.
“For instance, the price of milk has shot up to Sh35 per litre from Sh18 in the last few years. The price of mutton has likewise improved from Sh250 per kilogram to Sh400 per kilogram,” he said.
Among the challenges he noted in the field is the reducing number of extension officers over the years due to natural attrition while the number of farmers keep on increasing.
This in turn has led to demand-driven extension whereby it is only the elite farmers that majorly benefit from the services of the available extension officers.
By Anthony Mwangi and Teresia Mutuku