Bid to step up livestock feed production begins

Livestock feeding at a stand during farmer's exhibition at KALRO centre in Naivasha in March 2023. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

The Ministry of Agriculture now says that the country needs an additional 2.2m acres of fodder to address the current shortage of livestock feed.

The ministry attributed the high cost of livestock feed in the country to low production and high post-harvest losses, which stood at 40 per cent.

To address the shortage, the government has partnered with the African Union-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) to address the rising demand for livestock feed.

Data from the AU indicates that the Horn of Africa lost 8.9 million livestock in the last two years, with Kenya losing 2.5 million in the same period due to the lack of pastures.

Dr Stanley Mutua the Head of Animal Feeds and Nutrition, State Department for Livestock Development said the country needs 55 million metric tonnes of feed annually but only provides 40 per cent.

Speaking during the launch of the Kenya chapter of Resilient African Feed and Fodder Systems Project' (RAFFS) and the Assessments in Lake Naivasha Resort, yesterday he said that to meet the current demand, the government required 2.2m acres to produce 4.3 billion bales of hay at USD3.4 million in the next ten years.

"We are working closely with donor agencies as we address the issue of fodder production, post-harvest losses and linkage to markets," he said in Naivasha.

He said that to address the acute shortage, the government had identified five value chains of hay, sorghum, cotton, sunflower and silage as one way of filling the deficit.

"We have a ten-year strategy that will fully address the acute shortage of feed and fodder for our livestock," he said.

Speaking during the launch of the of Kenya chapter of RAFFs and National Chapter of Africa Women in Animal Resources Farming and Agribusiness Network (AWARFA-N) Kenya, AU-IBAR Director Huyam Salih said livestock feeding constitutes 60-70 per cent of the total cost of livestock production and Africa's feed and fodder resources have been greatly affected by the global triple C crises.

Dr Salih noted that the massive loss of 9.5 million livestock, worth over 2 billion USD, in the recent drought in the Greater Horn of Africa region resulted in the loss of invaluable livestock genetic resources, developed over decades.

In a speech read on her behalf by AU-IBAR Senior Project and Programmes Officer Dr Annie Lewa, she said there were also huge losses for downstream stakeholders and retailing businesses.

Dr Salih noted that in IGAD region, some of the costs of unarticulated feed and fodder sectors is the persistent conflicts over feed resources between pastoralist and herders or crop farmers.

"Often this has escalated to tribal and even religion-based divides, and yet the underlying factors could include feed and fodder constraints," she said.

The director said Kenya was identified as one of the six core countries including Cameroon, Nigeria, Somalia, Uganda and Zimbabwe for the RAFFS project.

She lauded the government of Kenya for making development of the feed and fodder sector a priority, that can become a game changer for meeting key development and economic indicators in the livestock production sector in Kenya.

"AU-IBAR looks forward to working together to bring greater visibility to the importance of the feed and fodder sector and to strengthen it as critical to enhancing livestock production and achieving food and nutrition security," she said

One of the result areas of the RAFFS project is empowerment of women in the feed and fodder and the livestock sourced foods value chains.

Salih said AWARFA-N Kenya Chapter is expected to be one of the most vibrant and empowered with visible achievements.

"The RAFFS Project will support consolidation of the AWARFA-Net Kenya Five-year strategy and resource mobilization plan," she said.

"At this Workshop the Chapter will engage with financial and insurance institutions to begin the process of strengthening women in the animal resources access to tailored credit and insurance services and undertake some capacity building," she added.