KALRO to help farmers to access dairy technologies to boost yields

Low adoption of dairy technologies is one of the major challenges leading to low milk production among farmers. 

To address this, Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) Director General  Eliud Kireger has initiated a programe to provide technologies, promote and facilitate their adoption to achieve increased yields and profitability among farmer groups and producer organisations. 

Livestock extension officers from various counties examine animal feed grasses during a Training of Trainers (ToTs) exercise in Nakuru county. [Nanjinia Wamuswa, Standard]

The programme - dairy Technologies, Innovations and Management Practices (TIMPs)- is part of the activities under National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP), funded by the World Bank and the government. 

“After all our trainings on dairy value chain, farmers from Arid, semi-arid and medium-to-high rainfall ecological zones in 17 counties will be empowered to improve productivity of their dairy animals,” says Dr Kireger.

Speaking in Nakuru during Training of Trainers event Dr Kireger said the programme is a gamechanger.

In each of the counties, five livestock officers were selected to train in technologies, innovations, and management practices, including Assisted Reproduction in dairy cattle breeding, disease tolerance, basal and supplementary forages. Other areas of focus are forage conservation, feed rations for improved production, fortification of feeds, milk value addition, manure management, and aspects dairy business like cost benefit analysis and marketing.

Trainees will also learn knowledge and skills on milk handling and processing and manure management.

Currently, Kenya’s national milk output is estimated at 5.2 billion litres per year, out of which 60 per cent is from grade dairy cattle and their crosses while the remaining 40 per cent comes from zebu, camel and goats.

Kalro has been developing dairy technologies, innovations and management practices through decades of research.

County-specific work plans

Mary Maingi, a representative from NARIGP says after capacity building, the livestock officers will go to their respective counties and in turn train farmers on the technologies to increase milk production.

From the workshop, the trainees are expected to come up with county specific work plans to facilitate their respective county governments to move dairy value chain to the next level.

According to the Government, national dairy herd is estimated at 3.3 million herds, majority of which are grade cattle. Smallholder farmers account for about 2.5million dairy cows producing over 80 per cent of total national milk output.

The targeted counties include Turkana, Samburu, Makueni, Kitui, Embu, Meru, Kwale, Kilifi, Narok, Kirinyaga and Kiambu. Others are Murang’a, Nakuru, Bungoma, Vihiga, Nandi, Trans-Nzoia, Kisii, Nyamira, Migori and Homa Bay.

“The counties selected to promote dairy animals are a priority value chain under NARIGP to increase incomes, improve food and nutritional security of women, children, youths and vulnerable groups,” explains Maingi.

The trainees lauded the training saying it will equip them with latest animal health information that they will share with fellow farmers in their counties.

Nelson Ojwang, Sub County Livestock Production Officer, Nyamira lauds the training saying it is refreshing.

“It is a refresher course to me. I was in school long time ago when some of the latest information we are learning wasn’t available. But now, just like fresh graduates l am now armed well with latest information,” he says.

He says some of the challenges he faces is that farmers don’t know how to preserve feeds.

“Although there is plenty of rainfall, if it fails for say one month, all the feeds will be gone,” he explains.

He says farmers also don’t come to report cases of livestock sickness in good time. 

Another trainee, Asha Maisha Mwaganyika, Chief Livestock Health Assistant, Kwale County says the training is godsent.

“There are latest animal health innovations that l need to know to remain relevant. And that is why this training is not just crucial for me but also farmers," she says.

She explains one of the major challenges she faces with her farmers include late detection of diseases and inappropriate use of drugs they purchase from agrovets shops.

Maisha explains: “Farmers do not know how to mix drugs. They will over-dilute or mix too much concentrated mix. It means they don’t even read instructions before mixing.”

Other challenges affecting the dairy sector are inadequate feeds, prevalence of diseases especially tick borne, unavailability of quality replacement stock and high cost of farm inputs.

She says after the training, farmers will be able to formulate feeds at the farm level, using locally available materials.

Maisha adds: “If they can do value addition, farmers will come up with products that will fetch more money. Also, the issue of even milk getting spoilt will not arise since it will be used to make yoghurt, ghee and other products.”

Dr Kireger revealed that Kalro got Sahiwal breed from Pakistan which is a dual purpose breed that produces meat and milk.

They then crossbred Sahiwal with Fresian and Ayrshire. He says the crossbreeds are adapted to Kenyan conditions especially arid and semi-arid areas.

“The crossbreeds of Sahiwal-Friesian and Sahiwal-Ayrshire don’t consume a lot of feeds and are also able to convert low quality feed to meat and milk. They also produce up to 30 litres of milk in a day. And these are the technologies we are promoting to farmers.”

Kalro has also improvised technology where farmers can call the centre for clarification on any information on agriculture, for both livestock and crops.

Want to get latest farming tips and videos?
Join Us