Livestock farmers in 14 pastoral counties are putting respective county governments on the spot over low budgetary allocation to the livestock sector.
According to Kenya Markets Trust (KMT), livestock predominant counties only give a paltry three to five per cent of their total funds to the sector.
KMT Livestock director Ali Hassan said most pastoral counties have allocated a lion’s share to health, roads and education sectors locking out the important industry.
This, he added, has slowed down the growth prospect of the sector which is the mainstay of 85 per cent of pastoralist community’s livelihood.
Among the eight Northern Kenya ASAL counties, Tana River allocated 15 per cent of its budget to the sector with the least being Isiolo with only four per cent in the 2015-16 financial year.
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Garissa and Samburu counties allocated more than eight and 12 per cent respectively of their budget to the sector. Last week, Livestock executives from eight Northern Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASALs) counties met to deliberate on constraints facing the sector and explore ways of unlocking the barriers.
The meeting brought together livestock stakeholders from Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Tana River, Isiolo, Marsabit, Samburu and Laikipia counties including representatives from the national government.
According to Hassan, the low allocation is an impediment for the country to exploit its full potential in the livestock industry including exploring export markets.
“Pastoralist counties need to address the resource constraints within the sector to enable the livestock market thrive,” he argued.
Statistics from KMT indicates that Kenya only exported 200,000 heads of cattle in 2014. This is low compared to countries like Somalia and Ethiopia that exported 4.5 million and 1.9 million cattle respectively during the same period.
Isiolo Governor Godana Doyo who represented the heads of eight ASAL counties pointed finger at National government. He argued that the low allocation is as a result of little funding they receive from the exchequer.
“Most of our (pastoral) counties have not been able to improve the sector because of limited resources. We hardly receive enough funds to cater all the sectors as most goes to recurrent expenditures consequently affecting developmental sectors,” said Doyo.
He called for proper legislations and policies to help improve the sector. Similar view was held by Hassan who argued that Kenya Livestock Development policy had stalled.