Plans in top gear to set up embryo transplant centre in Meru

Livestock Development PS Harry Kimutai (right) when he attended Meru dairy farmers’ day at Meru ASK grounds. With him is Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi and Meru Dairy Cooperative Union Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Gitonga (left).

Photo credit: Gitonga Marete | Nation Media Group

A Sh200 million embryo transplant centre is to be established in Meru County.

This follows partnership between the national government and Meru Dairy Cooperative Union, Livestock Principal Secretary Harry Kimutai has said.
 
The centre will be the first of its kind in the country and is expected to boost production as the sector adopts modern technologies to boost farmers’ earnings. 
 
“The budget has already been provided for in the 2022/23 financial year and the construction will start in July, to be completed in December,” he said in an interview.

He said the plant will help farmers increase milk production as they will be supplied with high yielding cow breeds at reasonable prices. 
 
In this technology, insemination is carried out in a laboratory where the embryo is formed after which it is implanted into a cow.
 
Meru Dairy Union Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Gitonga was tasked with developing a proposal on how the plant would work in collaboration with farmers to boost milk production and incomes.
 
The Meru Dairy Union has also been selected as a centre of excellence for a climate change programme which seeks to have fewer cows producing more milk to reduce carbon emissions. 
 
“If we have fewer cows each producing up to 60 litres of milk per day, we will reduce global carbon emissions associated with rearing a huge number of animals. The Meru processor has been successful and we will make it a model,” Mr Kimutai said.
 
“At the same time, it is impressive that Meru Dairy retained the best farm gate prices for milk in the country, buying at a minimum of at Sh33 per litre even when other processors were offering poor prices during the Covid-19 pandemic,” the PS said.
 
He asked farmers to enter into contract with processors and assured them the government would ensure the companies honoured their obligation by paying farmers on time. 

Animal feed factory

Speaking during the Meru Dairy Farmer’s Day, Mr Gitonga said the processor receives up to 300,000 litres of milk from 82,000 farmers daily, noting that the union was concerned that most farmers produce less than five litres per day, per cow.

“If a farmer produces this little milk, they are operating at a loss and we are seeking ways of increasing production. We will visit your farms so that we establish why your cow produces less than five litres per day and assist you to produce at least 20 litres,” he said.
 
“In 2021, dairy farmers in Meru produced 99 million litres of milk with an average of 276,000 litres per day with the union targeting a production of one million litres per day in the next five years, Mr Gitonga said.
 
Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi has pledged to invest Sh100 million in the building of an animal feed factory to be owned by the union once he secures his second term in office. 
 
“Feeds produced at the facility will be supplied to farmers at subsidised prices to reduce the cost incurred by farmers in buying feed,” the governor said.

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