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Subsidized AI services for farmers in Taita Taveta

The Taita Taveta County Governor, Granton Samboja visiting one of the stands during the County Farmers Field day held at Wundanyi stadium to enhance food security and alleviate poverty though partnership. He is seen interacting with sorghum farmers at the function on Saturday June 2, 2018. Photo by KNA.

Farmers in Taita Taveta will enjoy subsidized Artificial Insemination (AI) services, thanks to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the county government and Kenya  Animal Genetic Resources Center (KAGRC).

Area governor, Granton  Samboja revealed that due to long suffering of livestock farmers, the county administration had entered into partnership with KAGRC so as to promote the livestock industry, which had not fully been exploited in the region.

Samboja pointed out this gesture would enable farmer’s access affordable AI services to improve on their livestock breed, beef and milk among other dairy products.

“This joint effort will see more 3000 cattle inseminated, after KAGRC agreed to sell affordable semen to the local farmers at only Sh200, as the organisation has established a nitrogen gas plant for semen storage in the region,” he said.

The governor noted before the introduction of the subsidized AI services, farmers were getting such services at between Sh1500 to Sh2000, which is exorbitant and unfordable to most farmers.

“The high prices of AI services have forced farmers to use local bulls for breeding purposes, resulting to low milk and meat production. This MoU will help local farmers to improve on the quality of livestock breeds and meat,” observed the governor.

Noting that livestock sector is one of the country’s flagship projects in line with Vision 2030 and the National Livestock Policy, Samboja said provision of quality AI services is critical to growth of the sector due to improved quality of animals.

“The initiative is not only aimed at changing the current low cattle breed to become better but also profitable to local farmers to improve their socio-economic status,” he maintained.

Samboja made these remarks Saturday during the launch of the subsidized AI services at the Wundanyi, Dawson Mwanyumba stadium.

The programme comes at a time when local dilapidated ranches continue to underperform, due to mismanagement despite presenting huge potential for meat production.

The region has a total of over 1.2 million acres of land and over 30 ranches, but the potential for ranching activities had not fully been utilized for livestock production.

“The potential for meat production is high in the county but due to uncontrolled natural resource utilization, this potential has not been attained,” said Samboja.

He said livestock development is an important sector in the region, providing employment and income and should be supported by all.

Livestock is one of the major sectors for the county economy with a short time strategy than mining, added Samboja.

The county governor further stated that his administration is promoting competitive innovative markets with emphasis for commercialization of livestock production and promotion livestock enterprise value chains as the engine to development and industrialization in the county.

“Most farm produce in the county are generally marketed with little or no processing which eventually leads to low income for farmers. Focus on commercialization and value addition will allow farmers to get better yields and value while creating more employment opportunities,” he said.

Records from the livestock department shows that the county is producing only 21 million kilograms of milk annually, which translates to 60,000 litres daily but this is far much below the potential as advocated by agricultural experts.

Meanwhile, the County will hold its first ever agricultural show in December this year in Voi town, aimed at increasing income through enhanced livestock value chain.

The governor said the agricultural show to be supervised by the Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) will enable farmers showcase their animals and their products during the three day event starting from December 4th and ending in December 7th.

He said the event will not only help revive the struggling livestock sector but also create linkages to international markets for the local livestock farmers.

“The event, the first of its kind will link farmers with agro-chemical companies and animal feed suppliers including donors,” Samboja explained.

By  Fatuma  Jumeah

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