Government unveils plans to revive livestock farming

Mithika Linturi

Agriculture and Livestock Development CS Mithika Linturi leads other government officials in the inspection of the Isiolo abattoir on February 23. 

Photo credit: Pool

Agriculture and Livestock Development Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has said plans are underway to establish a livestock processing zone in Isiolo to meet the growing regional demand for meat and milk.

Towards this, he said, an Sh850 million export standard abattoir has already been constructed and a feedlot for finishing livestock developed at the famous Isiolo Livestock Holding ground. 

He said the modern abattoir, which should be complete by March 15, 2024, boasts a slaughter capacity of 160 camels, 300 cattle and 2,500 sheep and goats per day.

The facility has an additional chilling capacity of 100 camels, 200 cattle and 2,400 sheep and goats.

CS Linturi said the holding ground has the potential to support the livestock sector in a big way due to its proximity to Isiolo airport, Isiolo modern abattoir, vast land and livestock catchment area.

“The investments in the land will greatly contribute to income, food and nutrition security for the beneficiaries in these regions," said the CS.

The holding ground has also been identified within the Lapsset corridor master plan as a key facility for the development of model development projects livestock projects such as tannery, and feedlots that will stimulate the economy of the region.

The ground has been earmarked for the establishment of feedlots and fodder development to ensure food nutrition and security for the growing population.

"These innovations will benefit small and medium scale livestock enterprises with the livestock sector an ideal enterprise to improve household food and nutrition security, increase incomes, create jobs and contribute to sustainable livelihoods in the arid and semi-arid lands," said Mr Linturi.

The CS pointed out that livestock is a key economic pillar for arid and semi-arid lands in the Horn of Africa with about 20 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia relying on livestock for their livelihood.

In Kenya, he said, the livestock sector plays an important role in Kenya's economy withdirect contribution of 42 percent to Agricultural Gross Domestic Product and 12 percent to National GDP.

The Isiolo Holding Ground, established as a livestock quarantine area in 1943, boasts 17,000 hectares meant to partly serve the Northern Frontier as a resting, fattening and quarantine station for screening livestock against diseases.

However, following the adoption of structural adjustment programmes in 1990, the government started privatising most of the services it offered while encouraging private sector participation in service delivery.

Thereafter, the operations at the holding ground started declining and the situation worsened when over 85 percent of its staff were eventually retrenched.

Regionally, Mr Linturi said the demand for meat and milk is on an upward trend, driven by urbanisation, population growth and rising incomes.

"The demand for meat and meat products in current export markets in the Arabian Peninsula is predicted to be stable and strong with an annual growth rate of 4.3 percent over the next decade," said the CS.

By 2030, he noted, Africa is expected to consume 125 percent more meat, 46 percent  more milk and 77 percent more eggs than in 2010.

“Agro pastoralists and pastoralists currently produce 80 to 90 percent of the red meat consumed across the region,” he said.

Increased production

Earlier while speaking at the Mutara Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) Ranch in Laikipia County during a fact-finding mission on how the ministry will revive Livestock farming, Mr Linturi said the government has set in motion plans aimed at reviving the livestock industry in order to increase livestock production in the country.

The initiatives, he said, will increase the production of livestock in the country in a bid to boost meat and leather production.

Top among them is the introduction of sexed semen at a subsidised fee, mass vaccination of livestock to prevent diseases and deaths of animals, fattening of livestock and introduction of livestock nutrition for farmers.

“We are keen on increasing productivity and changing the breeds of our animals, we will be rolling out a program to support our farmers by supplying sexed semen at very subsidised rates as well as transfer knowledge to them on modern livestock production,” said CS Linturi.