The beef industry is constrained by recurrent droughts and diminishing beef animals, an expert disclosed recently..
Tura Isako of Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation in Lanet Nakuru said during the Kajiado county meat value chain conference they focus on improving the productivity of beef cattle hence leading to the growth of the sub-sector.
This is emerging after other experts said the country has an annual meat deficit of 300,000 metric tonnes.
Those attending the conference claimed Kenya’s meat industry still largely operates sub-optimally, with low-value addition, poor processing skills, and low capacity and safety standards.
Isako said most Kenyan livestock farmers sell their stock for school fees and others keep livestock for social capital.
“We lack production goals, no input systems, the industry should be supported and the issues of breeds should also be addressed,” said Isako.
An official of Kenya Animal Genetic Resource Centre, Peris Bosibori, said the main livestock species include 20 million cattle, 18 million sheep, and 28 million goats.
Bosibori said there are over 3 million camels, 334,689 pigs, and 31 million poultry. KAGRC runs laboratories based on sustainable livestock breeds.
Halima Nenkari of the State Department for Livestock in Kajiado wondered why Kenyans speak about the export of livestock and yet pastoralists are not willing to offload their stocks for meat.
Nenkari said livestock farmers in Kajiado West can make gains in the production of their cattle if they can collect Prosopis juliflora pods to feed their stocks.
The plant was introduced in the region, commonly known as mathenge, to restore degraded drylands.
Their pods are recommended by livestock experts for feeding livestock, and especially cows.
Most of the livestock farmers and experts in the conference said most of the livestock slaughtered for meat come from the neighbouring countries of Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Somalia.
In Kajiado alone, there are 541, 163 beef cattle according to the county department of livestock and veterinary, but the figure was disputed by several farmers in the meeting, stating that the numbers could be higher.
Speaking while officially opening the conference, Kajiado CECM for Agriculture, Jackline Koin expressed her gratitude for the partnership with KCB Foundation that had made the conference a reality.
Kajiado West and parts of the Central sub-counties are normally affected negatively by the drought that had in the past forced Kenyan pastoralists to cross into Tanzania with their livestock to seek pasture.
“Livestock production is the backbone of this county’s economy, our devolved government will do everything possible to support the farmers to improve their herds for quality meat and milk,” said Koin.
She said the bills awaiting public participation at the county assembly include; (a). The Kajiado county crop agriculture 2020, (b). The Kajiado county tomato regulations bill 2020, and (C). The pastoral development centres 2020.
She said the bills approved recently by the Cabinet include; animal health 2021, animal disease control 2021, and fisheries and agriculture 2021.