Dairy farmers affiliated to Kieni Dairy, Nyeri County are set to increase quality and quantity of milk production after they received a feed mixer and other machines to improve animal feed.
The farmers were mostly relying on traditional feeding practices like natural pastures, crop residues, cut-and-carry grass, forage crops and local feedstuff, as well as communal grazing which significantly inhibited their dairy cows’ milk production.
Using supplements for both energy and protein-rich feeds for dairy animals has been linked with increased milk production.
Upon the realization of the same, farmers from Kieni started sending proposals to donors in order to source for capital to purchase machines for production of high-quality feeds.
And at the sleepy village of Gatuamba in Thegu River ward, Kieni East Sub County, meet the 26 group-members of Njung’wa Community Based Organization, one of such groups which forwarded a proposal to the World Bank through the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP).
KCSAP is a programme jointly funded by the Government of Kenya and the World Bank. It aims at increasing agricultural productivity and enhancing resilience and coping mechanisms to climate change risks in the targeted smallholder farming and pastoral communities.
The 26 members’ proposal was approved and was funded with Sh920, 000 in the financial year 2020/2021 which they used to purchase a feed mixer and a hammer mill.
Feed mixers are used in feed mills for the mixing of feed ingredients and pre-mixes. The mixer plays a vital role in the feed production process, with efficient mixing being the key to quality feed production.
If feed is not mixed properly, ingredients and nutrients will not be properly distributed and this means that the feed will not have nutritional benefit and would be bad for the animals that are consuming it.
On the other hand, a hammer mill is a farm machine which mills grain into coarse flour to be fed to livestock. The mill’s purpose is to shred or crush aggregate material into smaller pieces by the repeated blows of little hammers.
The members, whose targets go beyond eight litres per cow per day, have significantly benefited from the equipment provided which they now use to produce high quality feeds for their animals and subsequently increasing both quality and quantity of milk produced.
Additionally, the equipment which was purchased and installed after they rented a room at Gatuamba trading centre, has been of great help, as the feeds produced have been extended for use in other value chains including poultry, goats and pigs increasing production for the same.
The group Chairman Michael Ndiritu and Secretary David Gitonga expressed their gratitude to Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga and area MCA Richard Kamuhia for making their dream a reality.
“We are grateful to the governor, the MCA and the KCSAP team for facilitating the purchase of the equipment for us, as they have been of great benefit. We were also provided with Rabbits for rearing and Hass Avocados for nutrition improvement for which we are thankful for,” noted Ndiritu.
“The group will start arrangements of settling in our own plot so that we can expand our work and use the project commercially to ensure our project is viable. This is a dairy mechanization project which will notably transform this area as well as create employment opportunities for the local youth,” added Gitonga.
A member, Gerald Warui said that this is a great milestone since the machinery has empowered the group members, the local farmers and created opportunities for youth who will be employed to handle the machines.
The farmers have also been trained by Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), a service provider based in Naivasha.
An official from KALRO David Mbugua noted that the farmers have been trained on innovation practices, feed formulation, where to source feeds, how to grow and store quality forages for their livestock to ensure availability of feeds throughout the year, how to ensure quality milk and reduce cost in production among others.
The Chairman of Thegu Community Driven Development Committees (CDDC) Githaiga Muchemi said 55 micro projects in Lusoi and Lower Karkuret have been funded with a total of Sh40 million in the last two years, in the value chains of Irish potato, beans, indigenous chicken, dairy and natural resource management, which has notably transformed the lives of Kieni farmers.
While issuing 14 chaff cutters, 10 forage choppers and three bean threshers to Gathathi-ini Men Self Help Group in Thegu River ward recently courtesy of KCSAP, Governor Mutahi Kahiga said that the machines will help in boosting food production and livestock farming in the area.
Governor Kahiga urged the Nyeri residents to form more community groups so that they can benefit from such projects in order to enhance their lives.
“The County Government of Nyeri is committed to continue collaborating with KCSAP to increase agricultural productivity in the county seeing that agriculture is the backbone of our economy,” he said.
By Mwangi Gaitha