The World Bank has invested Sh27 million for mass vaccination of cattle against Foot and Mouth and Lumpy Skin diseases in Nyandarua County. The programme targets more than 385,000 cattle population and hopes to wipe away these diseases that have hindered farmers from achieving their full economic potential.
Nyandarua prides itself as a county of milk. But cattle diseases, especially Foot and Mouth and Lumpy Skin, have been negatively affecting the county’s milk sector valued at Sh12 billion, according to Agriculture County Executive, Dr James Karitu.
“The two diseases affect milk production in a big way because animals become weak and mortality rate is high for younger and a few old animals,” said Dr Karitu.
The World Bank channeled the money through the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Programme (KCSAP).
The county government topped the money with Sh3 million for facilitation and also received 10,000 vaccine doses from national government for vaccinating domestic animals like dogs, cats and donkeys against rabies.
When cattle dip services collapsed and later extension services followed the same path, livestock in Nyandarua were seriously exposed to diseases thus hindering farmers’ economic potential.
Dr Karitu said the county has been reacting to reported pockets of disease outbreaks but now has decided to do mass vaccination for effective disease control.
Some dip lands were grabbed leaving farmers with nowhere to clean their animals. Veteran farmers like Charles Ng'ang’a remembers with nostalgia days when cattle dips were working and diseases were rare in Ndaragwa constituency.
“Recently I went to check on Karai cattle dip and found someone doing farming on it,” he said adding that the dip was among the best managed back then.
With dips not working, farmers resulted to unorthodox ways of washing their animals in a bid to keep them disease free. Some bought hand-held sprayers and started spraying peoples’ animals at a fee. Some farmers even went as far as buying cattle breeds from other counties hoping they are hardy to withstand any disease outbreak common in Nyandarua.
Unfortunately, through these desperate ways, some breeders used the same sprayer for their animals and crops. This is suspected to be the cause of many blind cows in Nyandarua.
Dr Karitu said the county government has plans to address the extension service staff shortfall soon.