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Government launches Sh6.2bn plan to save farmers from a viral sheep and goat disease

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A farmer with his goats and sheep in Uasin Gishu. Goats and sheep are the main source of income for many people in Kenya hence the effort by the government to save farmers from PPR, a viral disease affecting the anmals. Photo: Jared Nyataya, NMG.

The Ministry of Agriculture through the State Department for Livestock has launched a Sh6.2 billion plan aimed at eradicating Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR), a viral disease affecting sheep and goats.

The disease which is also known as sheep and goat plague once introduced, can infect up to 90 per cent of an animal heard, and the disease kills anywhere from 30 to 70 per cent of infected animals according to Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Livestock Principal Secretary Harry Kimtai yesterday unveiled the National Strategy for the Control and Eradication of PPR 2017-2027, a highly contagious disease which also affects small ruminants including some wildlife species.

FAO says PPR was first described in 1942 in Côte d’Ivoire. Since then the disease has spread to large regions in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Today, more than 70 countries have confirmed PPR within their borders, and many countries are at risk of the disease being introduced. These regions are home to approximately 1.7bn heads – roughly 80 per cent – of the global population of sheep and goats.

In kenya the disease was first detected in 2006 in Turkana County. The state vaccinated animals to control the disease, but it spread in most of arid and semi-arid areas.

Speaking during the event, the PS who also officially commissioned a team that will oversee the implementation of the strategy said PPR is a threat to food security in the country and hindrance towards the realization of the ‘Big Four’ Agenda.

“The disease affects production in sheep and goats. These animals are key to the economy. There is urgency in eliminating the disease,” said the PS.

Kimtai said the first outbreak of the disease dealt pastoralists a severe blow. The disease killed 1.2 million animals estimated to cost Sh236m.

The PS said the ministry has a vision of winning the battle against PPR by 2027.

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Combating the disease requires a multi-sectoral approach from both public and private players, Kimtai said. He urged animal production stakeholders to join hands in eliminating the disease.

The Kenyan strategy is in line with the global, continental and the regional PPR strategies. It advocates for the progressive control and eradication of PPR by the year 2027.

Development partners supporting the campaign include the FAO, the European Union (EU), the African Union-Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) and IGAD Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD) among others.

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