By George Munene
KALRO is setting up a dairy goat breeding program aimed at multiplying and delivering superior goat genes to Kenyan smallholder farmers.
High-producing goat breeds such as Toggenburg, Saanen, German and British Alpine will be made readily available to dairy goat keepers. The project’s targeted beneficiaries are small-scale dairy goat keepers in Kakamega, Tharaka Nithi, and Nyeri Counties.
With diminishing land for dairy cows, dairy goat rearing has been on the uptick in Kenya. While dairy goats consume just a fraction in feeding and housing costs to dairy cows; a liter of goat’s milk goes for about Sh200— double the price fetched for cow’s milk. Commercial dairy goat keeping can obviously improve the incomes of many smallholder farmers, however, most still lack access to high-producing breeds.
“Purebred Saanen/ Alpine goats have the production potential of 3.5-4 liters daily; this is three to four times more than farmers’ milk from crossbreeds and the widely reared Kenya Dual Purpose Goat (KDPG). For farmers looking to embark on commercial dairy goat farming, it is critical to source for purebred goats whose early background is provable,” informed Erastus Wanjau, a supervisor at KALRO Naivasha’s small ruminant section.
Over its multi-year implementation period, the program aims to contribute to the improvement of dairy goat productivity and resilience in smallholder farming systems through breeding, multiplication, husbandry technologies, and dissemination of superior breeds.
It is scheduled to run from October 2020 to September 2022 and is funded by the World Bank through the Kenya Climate-Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP).
Guided by KALRO, the project will be implemented together with Maseno and Egerton Universities, The Dairy Goats Association of Kenya (DGAK), Kenya Animal Genetic Resources Centre (KAGRC), and Director of Livestock Production (DLP) sheep and Goat stations.
Farmers will also benefit from the development and implementation of specialised feeding regimes and husbandry support geared to boosting milk production and reproductive efficiency.
The beneficiaries and ground-level implementers of the project in Kakamega County will be Majaliwa Women Group, Manyonyi dairy goat group and Shikomali DGAK welfare groups. In Tharaka Nithi County; Gaithethia Self Help Group (SHG), Mercy Mothers SHG, Muungano SHG, and Mountain Movers youth group. Ndiriti Mukaru SHG, Nguyoini Goat Rearing SGH, Twimenye SHG, and EmBaringo SHG will assist in the project’s implementation in Nyeri County.
Farmers in Ndithini Ward, Machakos County will also be beneficiaries.