Low budgetary allocation, high disease prevalence and recurrent drought have been identified as the major challenges currently facing the beef value chain in the country.
Though the sector contributes 10-13 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the dairy sector has been given preference by the State and development agencies.
This came as it emerged that the country’s annual beef consumption stood at 648,252 MT against a production of 300,000MT with an individual consumption of 15kgs every year.
According Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), poor market infrastructure such as roads, water, electricity and insecurity had affected the sector.
KARLO Director General Dr. Eliud Kireger noted that the major constraint to the beef value chain was the low attention given by the government compared to the dairy industry.
He noted that beef farmers had little or no access to credit facilities and thrived in unorganized marketing channels where products were handled poorly along the value chain.
“To increase profitability of the beef industry, we need to reorganize our marketing strategies, increase linkages of chain actors and enhance traceability of products,” he said.
Speaking in KARLO farm in Naivasha on Monday, Kireger said that the research institution had come up with ways of improving productivity in the sector.
He pointed to the Sahiwal breed which was produced through crossbreeding and had come in handy in producing meat, milk and hides.
“Over the years, we have undertaken crossbreeding regimes between indigenous breeds like Boran and Sahiwal and we have seen an increase in production,” he said.
The DG noted that though the country was yet to meet its local demand, it still exported beef breeding stock to Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and embryos to South Africa.
“Kenya is not considered a significant beef exporter although a minimal percentage of live animals are exported to Mauritius and Arab Emirates,” he said.
Kireger added that the national government through the Ministry of Agriculture was in the process of constructing an export processing zone in Taita Taveta.
“All livestock that will be exported from the country will pass through this center to make sure that they are free of disease and of good quality,” he said.
On his part, Simon Wambugu a livestock extension officer from Tana River said that over 35 groups from the county would benefit from the beef value chain production training.
“Apart from drought, livestock farmers in Tana River face the challenge of Tsetse fly infestation and frequent disease outbreaks,” he said.