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Gov’t incorporating technology in bid to curb livestock feed shortage

The government will incorporate different technological methods to mitigate the acute livestock feed shortage in the country.

Speaking during the World Food Safety Day event at University of Nairobi, Principal Secretary (PS) State Department of Livestock Harry Kimtai stated that government recently lifted a ban on Bacillus thuringiensis cotton seedcake widely known as BT cotton for the purpose of allowing livestock farmers to mitigate recent feed shortages.

“The Genetically Modified Organisms ban was instituted because government has the responsibility to protect citizens but through research, consultations and public participation, BT cotton can now be imported with minimal restrictions to ease the burden on all livestock farmers,” said the PS

Kimtai stated that the government is looking into more ways of incorporating technology successfully, similar to places like India where livestock feed shortages are now a thing of the past.

“The government is exploring ways of incorporating pest and drought tolerant seeds on a large scale across the country and we are also developing a framework to lease idle land for farmers to engage in production,” said the PS.

Kimtai expressed that livestock contributes at least 15 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and there is potential for it to contribute even more.

Speaking at the event, Secretary General of the Kenya University Biotechnology Consortium Prof. Joel Ochieng stated that Kenya has the capacity both in terms of trained personnel and infrastructure (labs) to incorporate biotechnology.

“Bacillus thuringiensis maize popularly known as BT Maize is genetically engineered with bacterium that is harmless and pest tolerant. This would be a good option to explore seeing that maize accounts for 70 percent of feed content in the country,” he said.

In his remarks, the Secretary General Association of Kenya Animal Feed Manufacturers, Martin Kinoti called upon the government to consider lifting the ban on all genetically modified organisms and adopt evidence based decision making.

“Livestock farmers in Kenya are staring at a bleak future with dire shortage of livestock feeds and high costs as a result. Farmers have downscaled their production and over 36 feed millers closed. This is a crisis,” he said.

Jennifer Koome a livestock farmer noted that about 70 percent of a farmers cost currently is concentrated on feeding the livestock.

“A lot has been said, but for us farmers all we want is cheap feeds and safe feeds all year round,” she added.

By Mike Mulinge

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