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Livestock stakeholders aim to transform pastoralists economy | Coastweek

ISIOLO -- Despite contributing 12 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product and employing more than 10 million people, the livestock sector faces numerous constraints which hinder its development to produce sufficient quantities of beef to meet domestic demand and to develop a prosperous industry with hides and skin. BORAN CATTLE HERDER PHOTO - INTERNATIONAL LIVESTOCK RESEARCH INSTITUTE NAIROBI

Kenya livestock stake holders aim to transform
economy and lives of hard-pressed pastoralists

by Peter Mutai NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan livestock stakeholders ended a two-day meeting in Nairobi on Tuesday by agreeing on a roadmap to help revamp the sector that has the potential to transform the country’s economy and pastoralist lives.

The stakeholders said that despite the sector contributing 12 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs 10 million people, there are constraints that hinder its development to produce sufficient beef to meet domestic demand and develop hides and skin.

"We have embarked on improving the genetic pool of Kenyan livestock by investing in artificial insemination and semen development for better beef and skin," Christopher Wanga, director of policy at State Department for Livestock under Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation told the meeting.

Wanga noted that the government has also pledged to allocate interested parties farms where they can grow feedlots to avail quality feeds that have been lacking in the country.

The official further noted that arrangements have also been made to establish disease-free compartments and allow private sector with support from the government to export products.

Wanga noted that for once the problem in the sector is expected to be solved and livestock keepers begin to enjoy their hard labor.

"We want to reverse a common knowledge that livestock keepers are the poorest people in the country by offering incentives," he added.

Kenya is the third largest holder of livestock in Africa after Ethiopia and Botswana and livestock keepers are mainly found in 80 percent of Kenya’s Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) in the northern part of the country.

Adan Haji Yusuf, legislator from Mandera West in northeastern Kenya attributed the slow development in the sector to bureaucratic delays.

Yusuf said that changes made through parliament have delayed the development agenda of the sector because it takes time to be implemented and most of time they collapse by the end of a parliamentary calendar year.

"It is impossible to attract private investors and donors to help develop the sector in the absence of supportive laws," Yusuf added.

But Yusuf observed that there has been a remarkable change in the past 10 years as many farmers have developed a different mindset.

He said that Kenya will only realize the African Union’s Maputo Declaration that requires all members to attain 10 percent budgetary allocation to agriculture once livestock sector is given priority through national financial allocation.

Abdirahman Abbas, chief executive of Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC), a Kenyan think-tank, said it is time to realign strategies to reflect the current governance structures while responding to challenges affecting the livestock sector in the region.

"We need to instill a different mindset on pastoralists to start thinking about commercial livestock keeping as opposed to keeping them for prestige." he said.

Abbas noted that the Middle East countries have ready market for livestock products that Kenya has lost to Somalia.

He said that what livestock keepers need are producer cooperative groups, proper fodder production and financial incentive.

He revealed that FCDC has helped the counties develop a 10-year sectoral development plan that has contributed to the harmonization and development of a common vision, mission and implementation framework.

He said that FCDC has also developed a common framework for diseases control in line with the veterinary policy to guide the efficient and effective delivery of livestock disease control activities.

"We also have a 10 year livestock fodder and pasture strategy to enhance production and utilization of fodder in the FCDC region," Abbas said.

Kenya Pastoralist Parliamentary Group (PPG), a group of legislators, is in the process of legislating the livestock identification and traceability system through amendment to the national health act.

During the 2018 financial year, FCDC counties allocated eight percent of their budgets on livestock and agriculture sector and have recently agreed to increase the budgetary allocation to 10 percent in 2019.

FCDC has developed plans to purchase vaccines, construct veterinary laboratories in regions, construct cattle dips, construct markets, add value to livestock products, pilot breed improvement, pilot fodder improvement, promote bee keeping and lay strategies’ on drought contingency.


Declining Kenya livestock productivity linked to limited awareness

by Peter Mutai NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Lack of knowledge by majority of livestock keepers in Kenya is to blame for the sector’s declining productivity, a study released on Tuesday has revealed.

The Political and Economy Analysis of the Livestock Sector said that inadequate skills among herders and limited access to veterinary services have contributed to low productivity in Kenya’s livestock sector.

"There is need to increase sensitization activities on appropriate husbandry practices by the pastoralist communities," said the study.

Chris Shimba, policy and research specialist at Kenya Markets Trust (KMT) said that livestock keepers and traders are not aware of the existence of laws, rules and regulations guiding the sector.

Shimba said that the study found out that most livestock are of poor quality and small sized with low weights due to poor feeding and herding for long distance.

He said that for pastoralists and other livestock keepers to benefit from the sector, there is need to mobilize them into groups to help them take charge of marketing and avoid exploitative middlemen.

"There is urgent need to upgrade infrastructure to replace dilapidated roads, lack of market facilities, storage facilities for beef, hides and skins to increase trade in livestock products," said Shimba.

Harry Kimtai, principal secretary for livestock at Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation, said that the government is planning to revamp the sector that is crucial to attainment of food security agenda in the country.

"We plan to make the sector more vibrant and profitable to help improve lives of pastoralists," said Kimtai.

He said that the challenges identified in the study will help spur efforts towards generating timely data on livestock resources to support planning for the sector.

According to the study that was done from October 2018 to March 2019, meat production is well developed but hides and skins is grossly underutilized with the bulk of hides and skins neglected to waste.

It calls for incentives to invest in tanneries and leather manufacturing plants which have potential to turn around the economies of the entire nation.

It called on the government to shift from traditional policy formulation to adopt new roles to respond effectively to rapidly evolving market conditions.

"There is urgent need to promote equitable livestock sector development through effective institutional and regulatory framework and allowing private sector to come on board," said the study.

An estimated 600,000 metric tons of red meat is consumed in Kenya annually with 80 percent to 90 percent being sourced from pastoralists and the rest from the highland cattle.



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