Livestock association gives sector face lift

livestock kenyaOver 700,000 livestock farmers across the country now counts on improved breeds, easier access to finance and structured markets thanks to an association that is streamlining the value chain at a time when demand for livestock products is at unprecedented highs.

The association, the Kenya Livestock Producers Association, KLPA, which has been in existence for a decade, has managed to marshal support from financial institutions, telcos, government and development partners to harmonize operations across the agricultural value chain.

Its flagship venture, the monthly trade fairs have received a thumps up among farmers and players for creating a one stop shop and knowledge bank. The trade fairs happen every month in each county of the country on a rotational basis. At the fairs, farmers are invited to interact with providers of services and goods for example insurance companies, telcos, veterinarians, feed manufacturers, officials from governments, agro input companies, innovators among others. Primarily the association has sought to integrate livestock producers in formal markets exposing them to an array of services they would have ordinarily lost like access to affordable credit facilities.

The highlight of the trade fairs is the demonstrations where the farmers get to enjoy and see firsthand the latest livestock breeds, innovations and trends. “It has been a rolling success since we started the apex body in 2004. What have made the association gain membership have been the benefits farmers accrue in terms of information and connection once they come to the trade fairs. There is so much information that is meant for farmers but is still not reaching them. Trade fairs have traditionally been concentrated in Nairobi. We Patrick Kimani the CEO of KLPA.felt this was not fair to our farmers. We had to devolve that information to the counties so that all farmers can access this information,” said

The association’s membership ranges from individual farmers, farmer groups, cooperative movements and self help groups working with farmers, and corporate interested in livestock.

The association defines livestock farmers as any farmer or group that is involved in livestock ranging from cows, goat, sheep, rabbits, quail, and bees among others. “Our aim is to ensure and spur livestock farming as a business. The sector has been identified as a key driver of household incomes and national economy,” added Kimani.

According to existing data, the sector contributes Sh350M annually in sales which translate to 12 per cent of the country’s GDP. Over 50 per cent of the entire workforce in the agricultural sector also comes from the sector.

With an estimated 10 million beef cows, 3 million dairy cattle, 7 million sheep, 29 million chicken both indigenous and exotic, 9 million goats, 300,000 pigs, 800,000 camels and 520,000 donkeys, the country boasts of an approximated 60 million units of livestock making it one of the largest producers and consumers of livestock in Sub Saharan Africa.

But even with the significant contribution of the sector, so is the catalogue of problems facing it across the value chain. Budgetary allocation by the government still remains at less than one per cent of the national budget. The sector has also grappled with a host of traditional and new diseases which have left wiped entire flocks within minutes. Lack of raw materials for making feeds has made prices of conventional feeds out of reach for farmers ultimately affecting productivity.

“That is why as an association we have brought together industry players including the county government to deliberate on how we can spur livestock farming to compete internationally. We also use the many platforms to ensure that our farmers voice their concerns and we look for ways to deliberate on these grievances,” said Mr. Kimani.

Farmers interested in joining KLPA can visit the organization’s website for details: www.klpakenya.org