Men work together to bleed a camel during a brucellosis study in Marsabit County. Photo: Nelson Mwangi Muriu.
Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) in partnership with African Union is set to unveil a new drug for camels to help increase productivity in the country and also improve livelihoods incomes in the Horn of Africa.
KALRO has already started a three-year research to find a drug for the traipanosomias disease to replace the current drug that has been in the market for the last 20 years. The research which will cost Sh70m is funded by the AU and will be done in North Western Somalia.
Eluid Kireger, KALRO Director said on last week that once the research is complete, the drug will replace the current drug, tryquin that has been in existence for the last 20 years.
“We are set to look at an integrated control of camel diseases that threaten livelihood and food security in the Horn of Africa,” Kireger said during the project launch in Nairobi.
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He blamed tryquin’s ineffectiveness for the spread of surra, a camel trypanosomiasis disease that is a constraint to camel production.
Kireger said that the research will help contribute to development of pastoral communities through sustainable intensification of pastoral livelihoods.
She observed that camel production has been a significant livelihood means and an integral part of socio-cultural practices of pastoralist communities in Somalia and ecosystem in the Horn of Africa yet the disease causes high mortality, reduction in milk production and loss in body condition.
“Unlike other livestock species, camels are affected most by surra due to abundance of its unique vectors biting flies that lead to infection rate of 20-70 percent in camel herds with high mortality rates in untreated herds,” she added.
According to Kireger, despite surra’s socio economic significance in the Horn of Africa, the disease has previously received minimal and intermittent research and control attention by government and development agencies.
He said that researchers will study and communicate control methods to ameliorate the complex problem of surra in the Somali ecosystem.
“We plan to come up with evidence based integrated technologies and approaches that will optimize efficiency in camel production, minimize production losses and avoid geographical spreading of camel trypanosomiasis,” said the scientist.
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He said that the researchers will also build capacity of animal health workers in the region to better manage and control surra.
The research will also help benefit the regional countries by enhancing livestock production.
Once the disease is managed in the region, Kireger said, camel products will find market internationally.
“The reseach will help improve livelihoods and food security in the Horn of Africa by increasing trans-border trade in the region,” he added.
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