State scales up efforts to boost livestock feed production

 

Livestock feeding at a stand during farmer’s exhibition at KALRO centre in Naivasha in March 2023. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

The livestock sector is negatively affected by feed scarcity which arises from erratic rainfall and recurrent drought due to effects of climate change resulting in economic and environmental consequences such as massive livestock deaths.

Halima Nenkare, the Director of Livestock Production in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development said the sector suffers varied pressures including maintaining sustainable production systems coupled with the changing land use patterns.

Nenkare noted that feeds account for between 60 to 80 per cent of the total cost of production for all livestock production enterprises.

A recent feed balance assessment established that the country’s annual feed requirement amounts to 55 million metric tonnes of dry matter and Kenya faces a 60 per cent feed shortage as well as 46 per cent post-harvest loses.

She said prompt and appropriate responses to safeguard lives, livelihoods and ecosystems that support sustainable livestock production are therefore necessary such as supply of affordable and adequate good quantity and quality feeds for the livestock farmers.

Nenkare regretted that in Kenya, the livestock market faces various challenges, leading to substantial economic losses.

The Director of Livestock Production in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development noted that market failures have led to inadequate storage and transportation infrastructure, limited market access for smallholder farmers, and inefficient distribution systems. 
 
She said to overcome these challenges, investments are needed in storage facilities, logistics, and transportation networks.

“Empowering small-scale farmers through capacity building, market linkages, and access to finance can enhance their resilience and competitiveness. Collaboration among government agencies, private sector entities, and civil society organizations is crucial to build resilience in the livestock sector,” she said.  

Nenkare explained that collaboration among government agencies, private sector entities, and civil society organisations is crucial to build resilience in the livestock sector.  

In efforts to create a centralised platform for sector players, Kenya has established a Multi-stakeholder Platform (MSP) to facilitate collaboration and address the obstacles in livestock feed production.

The MSP was officially launched by the Director of Livestock Production in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development during the AU-IBAR Resilient African Feed and Fodder Systems workshop in Naivasha on March 26. 

“Stakeholders have been executing interventions in isolation resulting to duplication of efforts and inefficient utilization of funds. A multi-agency approach to service provision is therefore inevitable if we are to address these challenges,” she said.

Nenkare said in efforts to drive and develop a sustainable feed value chain in line with the Bottom-Up Economic Transformational Agenda (BETA) on feed and nutrition security for the country, the Government is putting in place measures to ensure sustainable livestock production.

Nenkare said to reduce annual national feed shortage and minimise feed imports, the government is supporting the provision of seeds, fertiliser, agrochemicals and machinery to facilitate efficient feed production and conservation.

She noted that Irrigation technology will be encouraged to reduce dependency on rainfall as well as use of public land for commercial fodder production while insects (such as BSF) will be promoted as cheap sources of animal protein.

“The government is committed to providing necessary inputs such as seeds, fertiliser, agrochemicals, and machinery to facilitate efficient feed production. Irrigation technology is expected to reduce dependence on rainfall while contractual agreements between millers and producers will guarantee a steady supply of inputs," she said. 

Further the government plans to encourage contractual agreement between millers and producers to ensure adequate supply of inputs for milling of compounded feeds.

Nenkare said the government will rehabilitate the rangelands range reseeding and control of invasive species will be supported.

To stabilize feed supply throughout the year and reduce post-harvest losses, the government will support conservation and storage of forage and support establishment of   strategic feed storage facilities in every ward under the cooperative business model. These will serve as feed business centers to facilitate access to forages and feeds by the livestock farmers.

To expand the capacity of livestock feed Industry and reduce demand gaps, the government will invest in capacity development of the value chain actors to bridge the capacity gaps along the value chain through establishment of a centre of excellence in feed technology training.

Nenkare said a Feed Resource Centre will be established to provide the required laboratories for quality control and assurance services to the value chain actors.

"The government intends to establish a modern Feed Resource Center equipped with advanced laboratories to ensure the safety and integrity of animal feeds. Strict quality control measures will be implemented to protect the health and well-being of livestock,” Nenkare said.

To ensure data driven decision-making, the government will conduct quarterly National feed out-look surveys. This will improve availability of feed data/information, which will help in feed planning and budgeting.

In order to create an enabling environment for success of the feed interventions, the government plans to finalize the Livestock Bill, feeds regulation, finalize Feed Industry Development Strategy and Feed Investment Plan.

Further the government plans to develop forage feeds production code of practice, review and develop concentrate feeds milling code of practice, develop a feed and nutrition security guidelines and actively engage with the actors such as millers and producers to ensure production of the required feeds.

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