Joy for Kiambu dairy farmers as county launches free AI services

Nyeri County Agricultural department officers give a cow high quality semen, as they offer free Artificial Insemination services for dairy farmers at Endarasha Village in Kieni East on June 30, 2016. [File, Standard]
Dairy farmers will get free artificial insemination (AI) services offered by the county government.

The free AI programme was launched at the weekend by Governor Ferdinand Waititu at Githunguri Stadium.

Mr Waititu said 80 per cent of Kiambu's population depends on agriculture, with dairy farming being a major enterprise.

He added that with a population of 250,000 cows, the dairy sector in the county produces milk worth over Sh10 billion annually.

The governor said there were only 50,000 reported inseminations annually, representing only 20 per cent coverage of the dairy stock.

“The free AI programme will help improve the dairy breeds, which will in turn increase production and farmers’ income. The project targets to increase the yearly number of insemination to 40,000, equivalent to 55 per cent increase.”

Waititu said the county currently had 240 licensed private practitioners who performed on average 10,000 inseminations monthly against a dairy population of 250,000.

“Farmers have also been facing challenges of high cost of AI services, low conception rates and the presence of quacks in the sector which the county government wants to address,” he said.

The county Agriculture executive, Joseph Kamau, said the flagship project was in line with the national development pillar of ensuring food security.

Mr Kamau said dairy farmers had been facing numerous challenges, among them inaccessibility of AI services as providers were mostly private inseminators whose charges were high.

“This has had an impact of low genetic potential as many farmers resort to use of bulls, adding to the risk of inbreeding and overall decrease of milk production.”

He added that the county had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Kenya Animal Genetics Resource Centre to supply high quality semen, which will be provided to the dairy farmers at no cost.

The official said the county had trained six inseminators and hired 15 more who will be responsible for offering free AI in all the 12 sub-counties.

To make mobility for the inseminators easy, the county government has procured new motorcycles for them.

The county is known for dairy farming, with growth in the sector being encouraged by a ready market in Nairobi, Thika, Kiambu, Limuru, Kikuyu and Ruiru towns.

The presence of local milk processing factories such as Brookside, Githunguri, Ndumberi, Limuru and Palmside dairies have also accelerated the growth of the dairy sector in the county.

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artificial inseminationdairy farmersGovernor Ferdinand Waititu