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New technologies protecting farmers against the increasing threats of climate change

The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization’s (KALRO) innovative technologies are bolstering farmers’ determination to maintain their livestock operations amid rising climate change threats.

The organization which has already been recognized as a center of excellence in the agricultural sphere is a true testament to Kenya’s resolve to place scientific adaptation systems to cushion farmers from climate-induced losses and damages.

KARLO has developed new livestock breeds, climate-smart feed, fodder, and vaccines to combat emerging and prevalent diseases in its store after years of research and development.

According to the Naivasha-based Dairy Research Institute Director Dr. Samuel Mbuku, farmers continue to benefit from new livestock breeds from cows, pigs, dairy goats, and poultry that give farmers value for their investments.

Dr. Mbuku said the institute has for instance produced the Sahiwal cattle breed that is highly competitive thanks to its high production and resilience to drought and diseases.

The breed borne out of years of research, is suited to smallholder farmers due to its low input consumption ratio as compared to other exotic breeds, amidst the high cost of animal feeds occasioned by disruption in supply chains.

In addition, Dr. Mbuku said farmers continue to access highly productive new pig breeds including the Duroc, Hampshire, and the Large White that promise farmer’s quick earnings within months, with lower production costs.

The director also hailed the new indigenous chicken breed that has attracted a high demand due to its production and is geared to meet increased meat and egg demands across the country.

Hence, he emphasized that to enhance the health and well-being of livestock, Dr. Mbuku said the organization has developed vaccines for East Coast Fever and Foot and Mouth diseases that have for years posed a threat to farmers.

Consequently, the director said that the organization continues to tap research to develop climate-smart feed and fodder varieties that respond to the emerging adaptation needs of farmers across the country.

For instance, Mbuku said local researchers have developed the brachiaria grass, protein-rich Rhodes grass, sorghum, and Lucerne varieties, which guarantees high production returns for farmers.

The director said the new varieties are key in addressing the huge animal feeds and fodder deficit the country is currently facing and cushion farmers during drought season.

“As an Institute, we will continue to research, develop, and avail to farmers’ innovations that lead to lower input, and increased production at a cost-friendly means”, said the director.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Kenya requires 55 million metric tonnes of animal feed annually, but only produces 40%, leaving a huge deficit of 33 million metric tonnes yearly.

During the last drought season, over 2 million cattle and other livestock heads were lost in the country, causing significant financial and livelihood burdens for farmers due to limited access to feeds and water.

Backed by these glaring concerns, Dr. Mbuku called for increased funding to research and development initiatives to address the deficit and enhance food security and livelihoods as demand for animal products skyrockets.

“We are engaging the government to adhere to global conventions in allocating 2% of the budget to research initiatives to address emerging issues and demand,” said Dr. Mbuku.

By Erastus Gichohi

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