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Subsidized artificial insemination programme boosts dairy farming

At least 3,800 farmers in Kirinyaga County have benefitted from subsidized Artificial Insemination (AI) services that seek to upgrade the county’s cattle breeds to increase milk production.

The AI services support project, which is a partnership between the County Government and the Kenya Animal Genetic Resource Center (KAGRIC), aims at giving dairy farmers a new breed that will increase milk production, enabling farmers to earn more money from the sale of milk.

The AI programme is being undertaken through four Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) targeting 60 dairy community interest groups. Initially, farmers would pay between Sh. 1,000 and Sh. 2,000 for each cow served, but the initiative has seen this drop to Sh. 500 per animal.

The initiative witnessed the CBOs being provided with semen, nitrogen tanks, and technical expertise to provide AI services to dairy farmers.

Speaking while visiting one of the CBOs, the County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Livestock, Veterinary, and Fisheries, Dr. John Gachara, said apart from the affordable AI, the county government is also supporting 66 dairy farmer’s groups across the county to produce quality feeds for improvement of their dairy cattle nutrition, which will in turn increase milk production.

“We intend to go further beyond here and ensure that, through dairy cooperatives, farmers are fetching good money for their milk. We will have a milk processing plant in the upcoming industrial park at Sagana for value addition to our milk, which is key to the improvement of the profitability of the milk,” said Gachara.

Beneficiaries hope for high productivity as AI comes in addition to machines for feed production that was previously done. Titus Gatua, the beneficiary, said the tanks for storage of semen will go a long way in improving the breeds of their cattle as well as increasing milk production, which will translate into increased income for farmers.

“The county government through the Wezesha programme has provided us with machines to produce quality and affordable feeds for our cattle, and this has helped us increase milk production. We are hoping the improved breeds will more than double our current milk production,” said Gatua, a member of Ndia Dairy CBO.

The dairy improvement programme has seen groups receive animal feed mixers, single phase motors, hay balers, motorized grass cutters, and choppers. The groups also got the initial raw materials, such as wheat bran, maize, and sunflower seeds, to make feed. Some of the dairy cooperative societies have also been supplied with milk coolers and yogurt-making machines.

By Mutai Kipngetich

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