Livestock farmers have been urged to avail their cattle, sheep, and goats for the free national vaccination exercise against trans-boundary diseases.
Agriculture CS Peter Munya while launching the national Livestock Vaccination exercise at Oloosuyian Kajiado County Friday, said livestock production in Kenya is always under the threat of the occurrence of animal diseases.
He said the vaccination drive aims at preventing the spread to enhance livestock production and health.
Munya noted that trans-boundary diseases like Rift Valley Fever (RVF), Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), Bluetongue disease, Peste des Petite Ruminants (PPR), Lumpy Skin disease (LSD) and Brucellosis continue to threaten livestock production, resulting in economic and livelihood losses.
He said the diseases spread easily from one country to another thus the control and management of the outbreaks require regular treatment and monitoring as well as cooperation between countries.
“The government is committed to eradicating livestock diseases; thus regular vaccination must be done. Since the diseases do not respect international borders, regional cooperation among neighbouring countries is crucial to prevent spread from one country to another, “said Munya.
The CS added that the mass treatment, deworming and vaccination exercise that is being conducted countrywide targets over 18 million cattle, 26 million goats,18 million sheep, and 2.2 million camels which are expected to be vaccinated to protect them from the ravaging Foot and Mouth, Rift Valley Fever and the Bluetongue diseases.
Munya noted that livestock keeping is the backbone of the economy and the potential must be fully tapped to enable farmers to secure foreign markets for their animal products.
“At least 90% of the population within Arid and Semi-Arid areas depend on livestock products including meat, milk, and hides, therefore, there is a need to develop strategies to protect the animals either by controlling the spread of the disease or even completely eradicating them for the benefit of our people and the economy. ’Munya said.
According to the CS, the spread of the disease poses a greater danger of complete eradication of livestock due to the failure of financial commitments by County governments.
He said some counties have refused to undertake the vaccination of livestock as a critical component of development in their areas putting those who have undertaken the initiative at risk of cross-border disease transmission.
Upon County Assemblies
“It is upon the County Assemblies to ensure that they set aside a fair budget to the vaccination exercise since the livestock function has been fully devolved. If one county decides to vaccinate their animals and the neighbouring county fails, then exercise will be in futility as there will be an outbreak of trans-boundary diseases,” Munya said.
Furthermore, the CS pledged to focus all his energies to ensure that all livestock in the country is tagged for easy identification as well as traceability.
“We have put in place plans to ensure that by the beginning of the next financial year we are going to digitally tag all our livestock to easily monitor their movement and prevent cattle rustling. Once tagged we will be able to track the movement of that particular animal that has been stolen,” he added.
Kajiado County CEC for Agriculture, Livestock, and fisheries Jackeline Koin said disease surveillance requires a combined effort among all counties to curb the spread of cross-border livestock diseases.
She attributed uncontrolled livestock movement and low vaccination coverage to the rapid spread of trans-boundary disease which if not managed can be fatal.
Koin revealed that the two-months drive targets 200,000 head of cattle in all the five sub-counties which will be vaccinated against Foot and Mouth Disease, Peste des petits ruminants (PPR), and Rift Valley Fever.
A further 400,000 sheep and goats will be vaccinated against Blue Tongue disease.
Livestock farmers from the Kajiado welcomed the free mass vaccination drive adding that many farmers own hundreds of livestock and cannot afford vaccines due to their high cost.