The Meru County Assembly has endorsed a plan to allocate Sh20 million every financial year to modernise livestock farming and address perennial banditry along the Meru-Isiolo border.
Among the ward reps’ proposals is establishing a county-backed team of police reservists to beef up security and funding a livestock keepers’ cooperative union to improve animal husbandry.
Presenting a motion on the state of livestock farming in the county, Majority Leader Victor Karithi lamented that insecurity was hampering the main livelihood of Meru residents.
“The executive should undertake urgent measures to come up with lasting solutions to the challenges of peace and security in the livestock keeping belt,” he said.
“There is also a need for a policy to enhance livestock keeping by opening upmarket and value addition opportunities.”
Meru had 173,000 indigenous cattle, census data showed, with the highest number in semi-arid areas including Tigania West (29,201), Igembe North (26,790), Igembe Central (20,042), and Tigania East (12,428).
The money will be a shot in the arm for herders, who have been calling for programmes to improve their breeds and earnings.
The national government previously indicated it had plans to establish disease-free zones and feeding lots in grazing areas to allow residents to benefit from the Isiolo abattoir that received funding from the World Bank.
“The government wants to establish disease-free zones in the Nyambene conservancy area to produce beef. In Tana River, the government has already identified Special Economic Zones for livestock production,” Agriculture CS Peter Munya said.
“We want to emulate Botswana, which has an advanced beef economy. If this is embraced, farmers would earn more from their livestock.”
The CS said the initiative included digital tagging of livestock in pastoralist regions to tame cattle rustling and ensure traceability of beef animals.
“The digital tagging will ease tracking of livestock in case of theft and further improve access to the international market. The buyers can easily know the history of the animal through information provided in the digital tags,” Mr Munya said.
Digital tagging, he added, would facilitate the implementation of the disease-free zones that require strict adherence to international standards.