Fate of county’s livestock economy lies in modernity
Posted Tuesday, February 26 2013 at 18:21
- As urbanisation gathers momentum, it is estimated that in the next 15 years close to 70 per cent of land that supports livestock production in the country will be under other uses.
With land in Kajiado County increasingly being subdivided for real estate, industries, and farming, experts have warned that the local community must embrace modern livestock production methods to survive.
As urbanisation gathers momentum, it is estimated that in the next 15 years close to 70 per cent of land that supports livestock production in the country will be under other uses.
“Livestock production that has been the main economic activity in Kajiado County for many years is likely to be replaced by some other activities like agriculture, real estate, and industrialisation if farmers do not embrace modern methods,” said Justus Gathogo, the Kajiado Central District Livestock Production Officer.
Nairobi provides a huge market for Kajiado County livestock farmers. About 2,000 animals are slaughtered daily for the city market.
The county has seen an influx of people due to its proximity to the city, raising the cost of land. Industries have come up as land developers put up residential and business premises.
At a recent workshop organised by the Export Processing Zone Authority in Kajiado town, county commissioner Arthur Osiya said that many livestock farmers graze their livestock in Tanzania due to urbanisation and subdivision of land. Mr Osiya said that 60 to 65 per cent of land in the county had been sold to outsiders who do not value livestock keeping.
“Unplanned sale of land is a big threat to the livestock sector. Unlike in the past when individuals owned thousands of acres that favoured the practice, the trend has changed as most locals now possess very small pieces of lands,’’ he said.
Due to environmental changes, water and pasture are scarce for the better part of the year affecting livestock keeping, he said.
Statistics show slow growth of the cattle population in the district between 2010 and 2012. Last year the number of beef cattle increased to 104,613, up by 1,511 in 2011.
The number of goats and sheep kept for meat, on the other hand, grew faster. This was attributed to better adaptation and faster production rate.
“Despite the pressure on land we are not stopping cattle farming,” said Mr Gathogo, adding that a lot needed to be done to modernise livestock production in the county.
“Nobody is buying land to keep livestock, an indication of a bigger threat to the practice. Economic activities of the county are fast changing.’’
The officer said that green houses and real estate were taking over. “A few years ago the vast land was promoting livestock keeping, but sadly the emergence of other economic activities indicates need to embrace modern farming that requires small pieces of land,” he said.
But farmers blamed the government for turning its back on them, which Mr Gathogo denied. “I disagree, services offered by the government, the level of management, and value given to livestock keeping are much lower in Tanzania than Kenya,” he said.
“We have done our part as a ministry, including educating farmers on the best practises to improve livestock production,” he said.