Livestock offtake scheme to continue in 13 drought-hit counties

A Samburu herds boy watering livestock at Kom area on September 19, 2022.

Photo credit: Geoffrey Ondieki | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

The offtake programme is being carried out by the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) and the Kenya Red Cross

The government will continue buying animals in 13 drought-stricken counties in a bid to shield pastoralists from hunger and further losses.

The offtake programme is being carried out by the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) and the Kenya Red Cross, said Livestock Principal Secretary Hary Kimutai.

The national government will collaborate with county governments to fight the effects of drought, Mr Kimutai said.

“We are going to work very closely with the county governments so that they form the first line of defence for the drought-stricken pastoralists, and assessment is going on to establish what needs to be done,” he said.

The scheme has two parts. In the first, the emaciated animals will be bought, inspected and slaughtered before the meat is distributed to the most vulnerable members of the community in each county.

In the second, KMC will acquire animals, slaughter them and process the meat before preserving it in cans for distribution back to the community as relief food.

The programme is underway and livestock farmers and pastoralists in areas hit hard by drought will be considered, Mr Kimutai said.

He spoke in Nakuru during the launch of a county rangeland and grassland management and development plan that is intended to increase productivity in these regions.

The government is also supporting manufacturers of livestock feeds, including plans to allow imports of yellow maize and review the ban on genetically modified organisms (GMO) maize.

Officials are developing guidelines for importing yellow maize that he said is 99.1 percent GMO free.

He argued that the maize will reduce the cost of animal feeds.

The document, he added, was sent to the Treasury for assessment and review before it is approved.

Mr Kimutai also said the government is reviewing the ban on GMO maize to allow the production of a variety that is more tolerant to climate change.