Drought ravaged residents of Makueni County are set to benefit from a Sh25 million livestock offtake programme sponsored by the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) in collaboration with Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS).
The initiative aims to purchase 1,675 heads of cattle, which will be slaughtered to provide relief meat to the vulnerable households during the season.
“The program aims to provide relief meat to communities in danger of starvation and purchase livestock from farmers to prevent them from incurring losses,” said KRCS official Joe Mbalu on Tuesday during a County Steering Group (CSG) meeting chaired by Makueni County Commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo at his Wote Office.
Mbalu noted that the program will create a livestock market for the emancipated livestock and will reduce resource based conflicts over pasture and water in the area.
Mbalu said the Kenya Red Cross is working in partnership with CSG stakeholders to come up with a timeline and criterion for selection of livestock farmers to supply the animals for the program.
“Also, the committee will determine the number of the households to benefit, including vulnerable families, institutions that were not incorporated in other social safety net programs,” he added.
The committee will include members from County and Sub county CSG, National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), Relief Committee, National Government Administration Officers and Department of Livestock.
Others will include the Department of Planning, Non-Governmental Organizations in the area, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and faith based organizations.
He added that the CSG may substitute cattle for goats or sheep, where one cow will be equivalent to five goats or sheep respectively.
“Each cow will be bought at a cost of Sh 15,000 and a goat or a sheep will be purchased at Sh3, 000 each,” he said.
Farmers will be paid by KRCS through Mpesa platform within 24 hours of purchasing the livestock while KMC and state department of livestock will coordinate and monitor the exercise.
Kitiyo said the program will mitigate farmers against the severe effects of drought and cushion them from economic losses from the livestock deaths.
He noted that drought is worsening in the area which has caused depletion of pasture and crop failure in the area.
“I call upon partners to support the government intervention to families affected by the drought in the area,” said Kitiyo.
The areas which are most affected in the county include Kikumbulyu South, Nguu/Masumba, Kitise/Kithu, Kathonzweni, Masongaleni, Mtito Andei, Kikumbulyu North, Ivingoni/Nzambani, Kasikeu, Kalawa, Mavindini wards.
By Ronald Rono