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    The Nyandarua County government will officially launch the planned cheap artificial insemination (AI) service programme by the end of February this year despite opposition from a section of veterinary practitioners.

    County Executive for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Agatha Thuo, said improving the quality of cattle is for the benefit of farmers and nothing will block them from rolling out the programme slated for February 26.

    Opposition 

    Kenya Veterinary Para-professionals Association Chairman, John Ngigi, had earlier accused the county of planning to institute the programme in disregard of laws governing AIand professionalism.

    The paraprofessionals claimed that only Kenya Animal Genetic Resource Centre (KAGRIC) is allowed by law to distribute semen.

    Ahead of the roll-out, two veterinary practitioners from 25 wards were recruited, interviewed and approved for the exercise, Thuo said.

    “The county recruited 50 competent practitioners to efficiently handle the exercise. They are all certified by the Kenya Veterinary Board. They produced their certificates, which we verified. We want quality; we cannot afford to recruit people who will not give us the desired results,” she said.

    Two weeks ago, she said, the county signed a memorandum of understanding with KAGRIC. The memorandum allowed them to distribute liquid nitrogen and semen to the veterinary officers.

    READ ALSO:The county is giving motorbikes to the professionals on loan to help them reach the farmers

    “Farmers will be getting the services at their dooor-step at half the current cost of AI. Most of the certified professionals offer the service at a cost of between Sh1,200 and Sh1,500. But under this programme, they will part with Sh700 only,” Thuo said.

    The officer assured farmers that upgrading indigenous cattle and sustaining the current high-yielding dairy breed would improve earnings and transform the economy of the region.

    Besides the semen being certified by the various government agencies, Thuo said, rogue practitioners who have been extorting money from the unsuspecting farmers will be rooted out.

    “It is one way of regulating the administration of this service. Many quacks have infiltrated the field and farmers may not be knowing. Registration and certification would help us drive out those purporting to be professionals,” she told Farmbiz on telephone.

    Liquid nitrogen preserves semen under the required conditions to maintain its viability after harvesting from the bull breed.

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    The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO)has unveiled a high yielding, fast maturing, easy to maintain and disease resistant indigenous chicken variety that has the ability to lay 220-280 eggs in a year, double the yield capacity of ordinary indigenous chicken. 
    High yielding and less production costs
    Dubbed the ‘improved KALRO indigenous chicken’, the breed start laying eggs only five months after being hatched and produces an average meat weight of 1.5kg. A cock, at five months, weighs 2kg, almost the weight of a three-year old local cockerel, which weighs between 2.5-2.8kg.
    This new free range breed in the market requires no special care and can be feed just like other indigenous chicken, hence low cost of production. The chicken has the capacity to withstand any climatic condition and is resistant to common chicken diseases like new castle.
    According to Dr. David Miano of KALRO’s Non-Ruminant Research Center, this superior breed has a quiet temperament, excellent feathering and is able to adapt fast to the conditions under which it is kept compared to other breeds. ‘’ unlike other indigenous chicken which produces 100-180 eggs in a year, improved KALRO indigenous chicken lay up to 280 high value eggs,’’ said Dr. Miano.
    The production ability of this chicken breed gently slow down as it ages with an estimated egg fall of 10-15 per year after 5 years compared to a sharp decrease in other breeds.
    READ ALSO: Enterprising youth hatches fortunes with chicken sourcing business
    This breed enters the Kenya market at the time the country is witnessing high market prices for indigenous chicken product. Currently, an egg from indigenous chicken retails for Sh25-30 compared to those from hybrid layers which retails for Sh12-15. The statistics from the National Farmers Information System further shows that a 3kg indigenous chicken retails for Sh600-800 with the price likely to be higher in major cities like Nairobi and Mombasa.
    KALRO’s Non-Ruminant Research Centres in Kakamega and Naivasha are selling day old chicks at Sh100 while a tray of 30 fertile eggs go for Sh1000. Breeding cocks are sold at sh1200. Interested farmers are asked to place their orders on the agency’s social media sites or by calling Naivasha or Kakamega office and pay 25 per cent upfront fee to show commitment via M-Pesa pay bill number 597638.

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    The fertilizer distribution business in Kenya is being operated by cartel networks, which, coupling with poor roads, have made it difficult for new products to reach the farmers in good time.

    Yara, the Norwegian brand that has distributorships in most of the world, has been in Kenya for two decades, but still has not managed to get its products in as many places as possible.

    The company currently sells 2-3 million tonnes of fertilizer in Kenya per year, and hopes to break through to the market in coming years.

    “It is a tough business and most stockists are not willing, either by influence or by their own accord, to introduce new products, even though they are better than what they are used to,” said James Kraske, the Yara Country Manager for Kenya and Uganda.

    Yara promises a return of four times the input for farmers who use their products, and this efficacy has seen them dominate the European market, where they supply close to 50 per cent of all fertiliser used in the region.

    ALSO READ: Duo arrested switching fertiliser bags

    However, penetrating the Kenyan market has been challenging because of poor infrastructure and lose of product to theft at the ports and on transit, and poor handling.

    “The other day we were receiving a shipment in Mombasa and as much as we tried to maintain the conditions favourable for fertilizer handling, we lost some of it due to the lack of equipment at the port to keep the humidity in check,” said Kraske.

    But Kraske is hopeful that with time, the lines between producer and stockists will be straightened, allowing each entrant a fair chance at the market.

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