County official on how they are engaging youth
1.What initiatives has the county made to help dairy farmers access the necessary services such as Artificial Insemination, coolers, extension services and feeds?
The county has embarked on an artificial insemination programme that is aimed at lowering the cost of AI services through provision of free semen.
It has also helped raise conception rates through reliable stocks of liquid nitrogen.
The provision of reliable AI provider at each sub county has also helped in service delivery. We have 11 AI providers and one intern.
The programme has addressed the issue of inbreeding through improvement of farmers’ records keeping and backups at sub county headquarters.
Also the county has provided AI kits to private AI providers in partnership with the national government.
On coolers, the county and national government have been providing coolers to dairy cooperative societies and organised groups 16.
To offer extension services, each sub county has livestock production officer, a fisheries officer and a veterinary officer to coordinate provision of extension services in their respective areas. In veterinary division, the county has 75 abattoirs spread across the wards with each having the service of a senior Animal Health Assistant (AHAs). These AHAs are therefore the touch points for our farmers who may need extension service from the section.
On feeds, the directorate of livestock has a continuous programme on trainings on fodder production and feed conservation in addition to demonstration plots and bulking sites for Napier, fodder, bracharia and others.
2. Are there programmes specifically targetted at vaccinations and interventions to control animal and diseases pests?
The department has four scheduled programmes for the control of notifiable diseases in livestock which includes rabies, foot and mouth disease, lumpy skin disease, contagious caprine pneumonia, sheep and goat pox (S&G pox) and New Castle Disease of poultry.
To reduce tick-borne diseases, the department has promoted the use of public dips particularly where common grazing is practised. Examples are sagana scheme, Thungari, Kabaru, Hiriga and Gitero cattle dips. Control of ticks also has an indirect reduction to Rift Valley fever and lumpy skin disease due to reduction of the arthropod vector population. A total of 27 dips have been given both technical and material support by the county government.
A lot of extension and surveillance is also being done to reduce entry of drug residues and contaminants in the foods of animal origin food chain.
3. What are some of the key policy and legislations that touch on farmers you intend to work on?
The department is developing veterinary, livestock and fisheries policies and the Nyeri County Livestock Bill. These are meant to address governance issues related to service delivery and quality assurance in livestock development
4. There has been concern that few youths are engaged in farming as an economic activity. What is the county doing to address this?
To endear youth to agriculture, we have come up with targeted programmes that meet their specicif needs.
For instance through the Apiary-Youth Project, young people have been given bee hives and harvesting kits.
We also have the Vector Control-Training of male youth in safe use, provision of pumps and acaricides. Some of the youth are offering these services to farmers at a fee.
We also have agribusiness in fodder conservation-training and provision of pulverisers to the youth who in turn have organised themselves and are offering this services to farmers.
We are also training youth on business plans and seed stock of animal feeds, salt lick and seeds.
Some of them are also engaged in fisheries and are also engaged in ponds rehabilitation.
5. Lack of extension services, an aging workforce and inadequate funding are challenges the sector is facing. What are you doing to address them?
We are lobbying for funds to recruit young professionals and also address the issue of succession management.
We are banking on Private Public Partnerships to bridge the gap by providing extension services. Development partners have also assisted significantly on bridging the funding gap.
On extension services, the department has forwarded a proposal and budget for employment of new officers to replace those leaving the service.
We are also investing in technologies by capacity-building of staff in information technology for extension purposes. The department has also procured plant clinic equipment and distributed them in 30 wards for pest and disease management.
6. What is the status of Chinga Dam cage fish farming project?
Cage fish farming was introduced at Chinga Dam in May 2018. Sampling was done in November 2017 and results showed an encouraging growth of the fish. The group has been taught on the management aspects required for optimal growth of the fish.
7. What are you doing to address the Fall army worms menace?
We are carrying out pest surveillance and scouting to detect any pest and disease outbreaks as early as possible. We are also undertaking capacity building of farmers and staff to handle any pest and diseases attacks.
We are liaising with the national government for supply of pesticide to compliment the county stock.
We are also procuring pesticides in readiness for any outbreak of diseases and pests. We are also training farmers on climate smart technology eg greenhouses and use of drip irrigation.
Farmers are being encouraged to take up crop insurance for maize and other crops so that they do not lose everything in case of an outbreak of pests and diseases.
We are addressing soil health and fertility by providing lime to farmers to reduce soil acidity. We are also liaising with other stakeholders in carrying out various agricultural activities. For example, 194 farmer groups have been supported by Upper Tana project in 2018/19 FY with grants amounting to Sh119 million to undertake various agricultural enterprises. We have established fruit tree nursery at Wambugu Farm and we aim to produce 100,000 seedlings annually.
To improve on agricultural mechanisation, AMS has bought machineries to help farmers open up new land, bailing hay and construction of dams and water pans.
We are also sensitising farmers on water harvesting technologies and soil conservation measures.
8. What is the status of national government Coffee Pilot programme in the County?
It is at inception stage and so far a proposal was developed and submitted to the secretariat dealing with the programme. 104 factories were visited and assessed to identify areas of intervention. In addition, 26 coffee societies have already been audited to find out their financial status.
Through various meetings, prioritisation of activities that need to be done and a work plan for implementation have been developed. In addition, coffee factory managers of the 104 factories have been trained on various coffee processing aspects.
The subsidised fertiliser amounts available for farmers at NCPB depot Kiganjo has been increased.
9. What measures have you taken to control coffee theft?
We have been working closely with national government in beefing up security and also ensuring prompt delivery parchment to the millers once ready.
10. What are you doing to ensure farmers can access quality seed and fertiliser?
We are working closely with Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) at Wambugu ATC to find out how farmers can easily access their services.
Additionally, the county has been assisting farmers procure certified seeds and seedlings from Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO), universities and nurseries registered by AFA-HCD and certified by KEPHIS. We are also facilitating pre- and post-sampling and analysis of farm inputs for quality assurance whenever necessary.
We assist farmers access and procure subsidised fertiliser from NCPB depots.
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