Harvesting of semen at the Kenya Animal Genetic Resources Centre (KAGRC) remains a manual and cumbersome affair screaming for modern technology, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei has said.
Mr Koskei said mechanisation would ensure efficiency while reducing risks, wastage and overhead costs. He spoke during a tour of the facility in Lower Kabete, Nairobi where harvesters are at risk of being trampled by bulls as they struggle to ensure semen is deposited in their hand held receptacles.
“We want to invest in fewer, well-motivated staff who do quality work in a safer environment. We need to increase the number of bulls for higher volumes of semen that can be availed to more farmers as opposed to a big, unmotivated work force,” said Mr Koskei.
He directed the centre’s management to set up a pension scheme for all workers.
“You ought to have everybody on contract until such a time that a pension scheme will be in place,” he told KAGRC Acting Managing Director Wekesa Nyongesa, adding that inspired human capital was the most critical aspect of any institution.
“I advocate clear terms of service in all my departments, such that workers are sure about their future as they work. I hate seeing frustrated and lethargic workers driven sorely by survival,” he added.
He said a lot more was expected of the institution that is the only bull holding facility in the country.
He said the facility was poised to produce 950,000 doses of semen this year, up from 700,000 last year, and should have its capacity increased to 1.6 million by end of 2016 to meet local and regional demand.
“The Government is building new bull centres in Meru, Nyandarua and Eldoret with others slated for Sotik, Voi and Kirinyaga. That is how serious we are about improving cattle breeds for our farmers,” he said.
He said they are negotiating with county governments to construct cold facilities for semen within their borders to give them easy access to quality semen.
“A liquid nitrogen plant is nearing completion here to secure a cost effective storage of semen. We want to see farmers trusting KAGRC for pedigree semen,” he said.