Small holder poultry farmers in Nakuru have benefitted from a Sh 25 million programme by the County government aimed at unlocking the full potential of the Sh 3 billion in the subsector.
County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock, Dr. Immaculate Maina said through the project aimed at improving breeding and multiplication of indigenous chicken, People Living with Disabilities, youth, widow and women groups in all the 11 Sub-counties had received a total of 48, 000 improved ‘kienyeji’ (traditional) chicks distributed under the ‘Improved Local Chicken Stimulus Project for economic vitality’.
Speaking when she oversaw distribution of one-month old chicks to 53 farmer groups in Subuku Piave, Njoro, Kamwaura and Njokerio villages within Njoro Sub-County, Dr Maina said the programme targets to have farmers rear improved kienyeji chicken varieties that start laying eggs only five months after being hatched and produce an average meat weight of 1.5kg, while a cock should weigh at least 2kg.
“Farmers are expected to use the dual-purpose breeds to improve their local chicken in addition to increasing their production. This will address challenges of poor breeds, low production while generating income for the communities,” stated Dr Maina.
She noted that so far 5, 000 one-month old chicks had been distributed to farmer groups in the Sub-County.
The CEC added: “Before we distributed the birds, farmers were trained on proper management, feeding modes and medications for the chicks. The programme is designed to empower the youths and women economically and enhance food security in the county. It will enable them to take care of the needs of their families, as well as pay school fees for their children.
“The project also aims at promoting urban agriculture while ensuring the use of limited available space to feed the growing population in urban centres. Our ultimate goal is to achieve food security and nutrition as well as create employment,” she said.
Last year, poultry farmers in Nakuru netted Sh. 875 million from the sale of 67 million eggs. A further Sh. 489 million was earned from sale of 825 tonnes and 340 tonnes of chicken and turkey meat respectively. The figure according to Dr Maina will exceed Sh 3 billion if farmers receive disease resistant birds with fast maturity.
To ensure that the small holder farmers realise optimum production, the county government has attached a veterinary and a livestock extension officer to the project who will equip the breeders with necessary technical advice such as how to feed the birds and administer vaccines.
Statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture indicate that Kenya has an estimated poultry population of 31 million birds. Out of these, 75 per cent consist of indigenous chicken, 22 percent are broilers and layers and one per cent of breeding stock. The traditional chicken is mostly kept in rural areas while layers and broilers are mainly reared in the urban areas.
The CEC said 110 Cooperative societies had received 96 automatic chicken incubators and backup generators valued at Sh. 6.8 million, while in Bahati Sub-County six poultry farmers’ cooperatives had each received a 3, 200 egg capacity incubators to boost their operations.
“Nakuru now has approximately 1.5 million indigenous chicken, 100, 300 improved kienyeji breeds, 212, 200 layers, 275, 900 broilers, 44, 000 turkeys, 73, 000 ducks and 14,500 geese.
The County is exploring the possibility of intensifying poultry vaccination to cushion small-scale farmers against the high vaccination costs as well as the high disease outbreaks,” stated the CEC.
By Jane Ngugi and Charloth Chepkemoi