The livestock-rich North Rift region is seeking to tap the lucrative European Union market for its beef and other animal products. This is by ensuring the animals are healthy and meet the demands of buyers.
Kenyan beef and live animals are restricted from Europe because of diseases.
Official data shows that livestock diseases rob the country of Sh24 billion annually, attributed to reduced market access, decreased productivity and deaths.
West Pokot County Governor John Lonyagapuo last week said the devolved unit had rolled out massive vaccination against foot and mouth disease, among others, to improve the quality and productivity of animals, at a cost of Sh10 million.
“We are keen to exploit the European market. That is why we recently vaccinated about 600,000 cattle,” said the governor.
He added that another county was targeting to vaccinate one million goats and sheep.
Counties under the North Rift Economic Bloc last year shut down all livestock sale yards and restricted inter-county movements to control spread of diseases.
The bloc, formed in 2015, brings together eight counties — Uasin Gishu, West Pokot, Baringo, Turkana, Samburu, Nandi, Elgeyo-Marakwet and Trans Nzoia.
Meat products from livestock in the region — like Baringo and West Pokot — are naturally salted, thanks to the area’s red soil.
To tackle insecurity, Prof Lonyagapuo said that together with Turkana county governor Josphat Nanok, they held a meeting with Uganda authorities last month to address perennial scramble for pasture and other resources.
“We agreed that they allow herders from our two counties to graze in the county, especially during dry spells.
“We want the national government to adopt the measure, which was used in Northern Uganda with the construction of 14 major dams, by constructing massive dams in this region. These will provide water and pasture during dry spells (to avert competition for resources),” added the governor.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, an estimated Sh459.2 billion was injected into the economy by the livestock subsector.
“In 2015, the country produced 288,132 tonnes of beef cattle worth Sh103 billion, 160,000 tonnes of mutton and chevon worth Sh70 billon, 81,000 tonnes of poultry (Sh32 billion), 43,000 tonnes of pork (Sh17 billion) and 11,200 tonnes of camel meat (Sh3.4 billion).
It also produced 5.2 billion litres of milk valued at Sh234 billion,” said Dr Andrew Tuimur, the Livestock Principal Secretary, in 2016.
He urged farmers to embrace value addition. “When some processing is done, the value of the product increases three to four times. This would lead to better incomes at the farm level.”
The ministry is also implementing the small scale holder commercialisation programme in nine counties — Nakuru, Bomet, Nyamira, Kisii, Kakamega, Bungoma, Nandi, Uasin Gishu and Trans-Nzoia.
“With the support of the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), we have received Sh1.7 billion for the project that will run for four years. We are targeting over 200,000 households,” said the PS then.
The programme aims at increasing the income of rural households that rely on dairy products.