By Andrew Ombuni
A Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) has partnered with the County Government of Kakamega increase milk production in the county.
Over 16,000 dairy farmers are being targeted before the end of this year across the 12 sub counties of the county.
One Acre Fund is now providing Artificial Insemination (AI) Services to households at a subsidized rate aimed at helping farmers upgrade their dairy breeds and improve on milk production in the county.
Speaking at Kochwa area in Navakholo Constituency during the launch of the program, One Acre Fund Products and Innovations Senior Manager, Evans Libeya, said the move is to support the county government’s One Cow Initiative
According to Mr Libeya, One Acre Fund is now charge Sh1, 000 to serve a cow (Artificial Insemination) when on heat, adding that in case the cow fails to get pregnant, they will serve it again after 21 days free of charge.
“Farmers were being exploited by private veterinary officers who have been charging them between Sh700 – Sh3, 500 to serve their dairy cows. Farmers have been losing money to unscrupulous inseminators after the cows failed to get pregnant in most cases,” said Mr Libeya.
He added: “We will also give the farmers dairy meal, ultra-mix and deworming of their livestock at subsided prices,”
Already, Governor Wycliffe Oparanya has distributed 600 pedigree dairy cows in the second phase of the program launched a month ago.
So far the county has given out free dairy cows to over 1,200 households at a cost of Sh61million. Those who got the dairy cows in the first phase have passed 1, 310 heifers passed to other farmers within the self-help groups’ enrolled tor the programme.
Under the programme, selected farmers are given dairy cows and are supposed to pass the heifers to others after calving.
Kakamega is unable to meet its annual milk requirements of 197.6million litres of milk annually forcing to rely heavily to the Uasin Gishu and Nandi counties which translates to 80 per cent of milk consumed in the county.
Kenneth Agatsiva, the NGO’s an AI technician, said three months after serving the cow, they will diagnose it ascertain whether it conceived and educate the farmer on how to manage the cow until it delivers.
Agatsiva said after delivery, they will manage the calf to ensure its growing and then tag it for easy identification. “We are discouraging farmers against taking their cows to bulls when on heat since the bulls can transfer infections to them which results to repeat breading,”
“We are also targeting farmers who are not enrolled to the One Cow Initiative but have indigenous breeds to upgrade them to cross breeds and increase milk production,” Agatsiva.
Besides provision of AI services to farmers, One Acre Fund is set to roll out a program of giving out dairy cows to farmers on loan starting January next year. This is according to the NGO’s Africa Governments Relations director, Mr Nick Daniels.
Navakholo MP, Emmanuel Wangwe who attended the event asked farmers to do cross breeding of their cows to increase milk production in the county, saying there is a ready market for milk.
“I will purchase four milk coolers next month and have them installed within trading centres in the constituency to add to the one bought by World Bank at Sh7million after Milk production in the area has increased,” said Wangwe.
Mr Wangwe also said told farmers form a dairy cooperative society from where they will be selling their milk after value addition and get better prices for their milk.
Recently, Governor Oparanya after signing into law the Kakamega County Dairy Development Corporation Bill 2017 said dairy sector is set to be given first priority since the sugar industry which has been supporting over 2million people was ailing.
According to Oparanya, the dairy programme is to ensure the county has enough milk that apart from local consumption; it will cater for the Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) milk program and for export.