The national government has released Sh350 million for the second phase of the livestock off-take programme.
Speaking at Sajiloni, during a fact-finding mission on the drought situation in Kajiado county, Agriculture and Livestock Development CS Mithika Linturi said this was an immediate intervention by the government to cushion farmers from the raving effects of the ravaging drought, even as it plans on long-term measures.
“By the end of this week, the Kenya Meat Commission will be buying the livestock and through the National Drought Management Authority, the emaciated cows which are consumable will be slaughtered and their meat given to the vulnerable families,” said Linturi.
He added that livestock farmers must now think of other ways of keeping livestock rather than the traditional methods.
“As a Ministry, we have the De-risking Inclusion and Value Chain Enhancement for Rural Economies (DRIVE) program which helps livestock farmers to make feedlots where animals can feed and they are sold off once they gain weight. The program also provides funds to farmers with a low interest rate. With such a program, I urge all livestock farmers to cooperate with us so that they can benefit,” he said.
The CS also urged the community to plant drought resistant crops, even as they continue keeping livestock, adding that the government is planning to distribute drought resistant crop seedlings and fertilizer in dry areas so as to boost food production.
“There is food shortage in Kenya and it is a shame to ask for relief food repeatedly yet we have land and the knowhow to be self-reliant rather than asking for food donations every other time,” said the CS.
At the same time, Linturi urged the residents to attend trainings that will be conducted by the Ministry in the county to inform people about the emerging technological ways that can be used to grow crops, even during times of drought.
He revealed that part of the long-term measures the government is putting in place was water provision through building dams.
The CS alluded to ongoing discussions where the government will construct massive dams across the country, within the next three years.
On his part, Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku lauded the government’s livestock off-take program, while reiterating Linturi’s remarks that time was ripe for community to change its way of livestock keeping.
The governor said that the county had changed its budget from development plans to an emergency kitty so as to salvage the prevailing situation in the area.
The chairman of the Isinya livestock market Steven Moinket, requested the government to open a tannery where they could at least sell the hides and skin from the dying animals to recoup some cash.
He said the livestock off-take program will come in handy as the middle men were exploiting the farmers in the marketplace, subjecting them to suffer even more losses.
According to the National Drought Management Authority, about 290,000 cattle have died due to drought in Kajiado, while 75% of the remaining animals are emaciated and unable to stand on their own.
The CS was accompanied by the Kajiado county acting County Commissioner Harun Kamau, Livestock PS Harry Kimutai, National Drought Management Authority Kajiado Coordinator Hussein Mohammed and the local Senator Samuel Seki.
By Diana Meneto