Pastoralists in Kwale County can now breathe a sigh of relief after Governor Salim Mvurya commissioned a feedlot farm in Mackinnon Road ward in Kinango sub-county.
The Mackinnon Feedlot Farm Limited is a privately owned company established to export livestock to overseas markets.
A feedlot or feed yard is a type of animal feeding operation which is used in intensive animal farming, notably beef cattle, but also swine, horses, sheep, turkeys, chickens or ducks, prior to slaughter.
The private livestock farm that breeds improved local Borana cattle is open for Kwale community to learn about their management at no fee. The Borana cattle have a high market value and weigh up to 900kgs.
The owner of the feedlot Abdi Ibrahim says he aims to export close to 10,000 animals in a month with each fetching for more than Sh.100, 000.
Mvurya said that Kwale needs such investors who are ready to impart agricultural skills to farmers in the County.
“With the perennial cycle of drought and famine, feedlot farming is the way to go especially in Kinango and Lunga Lunga sub counties where pastoralism is very common” said Mvurya.
With such a high number, the farm will generate a strong source of livelihood for the residents of Kwale.
The farm which is located in a rich livestock region brings to an end the struggles faced by livestock keepers especially in finding a desirable market for their animals.
For several decades, pastoralists in the county have been incurring losses because of a limited market.
The majority of them have been selling their animals in the weekly open-air markets before they are taken to the slaughterhouses by brokers.
Addressing the press during the opening ceremony for the farm, Governor Mvurya expressed his gratitude to the private investors for solving the market problem faced by many livestock keepers in the county.
Mvurya asked the residents to get into business and use the opportunity to change their lives and challenged the residents to take advantage of the farm to learn and improve their cattle and feeding options.
”If farmers used to get small wages from slaughterhouses now, they can earn huge money from this farm. It’s a good project that will eventually end poverty in this county. ”Mvurya said.
The Governor noted that such companies are keen on transforming the county.
He added that his administration is working closely with investors to ensure that the people of Kwale get the best services.
‘‘I welcome other investors to bring companies here. Through such companies, the economy of this county will grow tremendously” said Mvurya.
The Feedlot which houses many segments such as pasture preservation center, livestock treatment center, and other significant sectors will offer employment opportunities to the youth.
The two-term Governor asked the residents to cooperate with the investors in the farm to ensure that they benefit from the services offered.
The county government has been at the center of promoting livestock farming in the county.
In July, the county government through the Department of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries issued 100 beef cattle and 80 heifers to livestock keepers across the 20 wards.
In addition, area Mackinnon Road Ward Member of the County Assembly (MCA) Joseph Danda said the feedlot farm is a breakthrough to the struggling farmers.
He said pastoralists in the area will be given a priority thus encouraging them to increase their animals to meet the demands of the farm.
‘‘I don’t want to see animals dying because of the drought. Whenever the weather gets worse, please bring your animals here.’’Danda said.
The MCA noted that farmers are still subscribing to traditional methods of livestock keeping, consequently hindering them from succeeding in the livestock sector.
He said the lack of proper methods of livestock keeping has cost farmers, particularly during droughty seasons where thousands of animals die for lacking pasture and water.
Danda said once the farmers receive relevant skills, they will sustain the demand of the farm and better their living standards.
Kwale County enjoys favorable conditions for livestock rearing uniquely, the beef cattle like Boran and Zebu breed.
Boran and Zebu breeds exist well in hot and dry regions like the Coast and North Eastern.
The farm which bears a modern laboratory will act as a ladder to farmers by offering supplementary diets to fatten their animals.
The existence of the farm is a significant boost to farmers who will be equipped with distinct skills in the use of technology like pasture preservation and prevent the losses caused by drought due to poor methods of grazing.
By Raymond Zaka and Hussein Abdullahi