In Kenya, livestock farming stands as a testament to tradition and resilience

Officials during the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of animal feeds factory in Athi River

For herders and pastoral communities, whose livelihoods depend on the well-being of their herds, the spectre of drought brings hardship and uncertainty, amplifying the need for sustainable solutions to safeguard their way of life.
In contrast, the fertile valleys and plateaus teem with the promise of abundance, where crop farming thrives under the sun. Here, the battle against nature takes a different form, as farmers grapple not with drought but with the now insidious menace of fake fertilizers. The ground may be fertile, but the promise of a bountiful harvest is often betrayed by counterfeit inputs, leaving farmers disillusioned and struggling to break free from the shackles of deception.
Against this backdrop, De Heus Animal Nutrition Limited emerges as a beacon of hope, bridging the divide between livestock and crop farming with its commitment to providing high-quality, affordable animal feeds.
The firm has announced plans for a state-of-the-art livestock feed plant in Athi River, Machakos County.
The animal feed manufacturer has invested Sh3 billion in the construction of its first factory in Kenya and East Africa.
With plans to produce 200,000 metric tonnes of feed annually, the company not only addresses the immediate needs of livestock farmers but also offers a lifeline amidst the scarcity wrought by drought.
It will become operational during the second half of 2025, catering to the needs of the poultry, swine and dairy farming sectors in the country.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, CEO Koen De Heus underscores Kenya's potential in the livestock sector, emphasizing the company's dedication to tailoring feeds to meet the unique needs of locally bred livestock. In addition to providing feeds, the company pledges to offer technical support and training to farmers, empowering them to maximize productivity and resilience in the face of adversity.
“Through our presence in Kenya, in close proximity to key farming communities we will be able to put our global knowledge to work resulting in enhancement of the productivity and profitability of Kenyan farms. Similarly, working through close partnerships and personalized on-the-farm support, we will endeavour to deliver a seamless tailored solution to farmers every time,” said de Heus.
The government, represented by Principal Secretary for Livestock Development Jonathan Mueke, echoes this sentiment, highlighting the critical role of the livestock sector in Kenya's economy. As the country grapples with the challenges of fake fertilizers and drought, Mueke reaffirms the government's commitment to creating an enabling environment for investors and farmers alike, emphasizing the importance of collaboration in driving agricultural growth.
He noted that the cost of animal feed has been the thorn in the flesh and they are deliberately sorting it to turn the sector around and enhance livelihoods.
“We are excited by the interest and investment by De Heus Kenya in the local animal feed sector. By merging their global expertise with an understanding of Kenya's agricultural landscape, we hope to see an introduction of agricultural innovations and feed technologies for our farmers, towards meeting Kenya’s food security needs," said Mueke.
Machakos Governor Wavinya Ndeti added her voice to the chorus of support, praising the plant's potential to increase food security and economic prosperity in the region. With the government and private sector joining forces, Kenya stands poised to overcome the challenges that threaten its agricultural future, forging a path towards resilience and sustainability for generations to come.
“We have enough land to engage our farmers to plant the feed for the animals. This is an opportunity that will improve the livelihoods of our farmers and animals,” she said.
Last year, in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, drought killed an estimated 9.5 million animals and tipped some 26 million people into food insecurity, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 

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