Kitui Governor H.E. Charity Ngilu admiring a dairy cow at a past agricultural event. Over 100,000 farmers in the county are set to benefit from an artificial insemination to boost their production. Photo courtesy.
Over 100,000 households in Kitui County are set to benefit from a free insemination program offered by the county government to improve milk and beef production of the traditional cattle which are the dominant breed in the county and which have been faced with production challenges.
According to the county livestock statistics, Kitui has about 401,265 head of cattle and only 6,685 are good dairy cattle, making the county heavily deficient in milk supply for domestic and commercial consumption.
The programme which was launched yesterday at Mbitini market in Kitui Rural Constituency will see the indigenous cattle’s ovulation cycle manipulated using scientific methods to synchronise animals to get on heat at the same time and then administer mass artificial insemination.
“This technology-based livestock improvement and multiplication programme induces a large number of females to be on heat in a short, predetermined time,” said Dr. Wathe Nzau, Kitui County Deputy Governor who is also a veterinary doctor by training.
In fact, this will help local farmers earn more money from the planned programme while in future opening a new front for wealth creation and fighting poverty.
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In the programme, the county plans to have about 250,000 cattle fertilised between now and March this year across all the 40 wards in Kitui with the hope of producing the same number of calves in October to up milk production.
“We expect each of the 60,000 livestock keeping households in Kitui to produce five litres of milk per day that would be 300,000 litres per day. If it retails at Sh50 per litre it would fetch Sh15m per day, Sh450m per month and Sh5.4bn annually,” said Emmanuel Kisangau, the county Agriculture Executive officer.
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The county government has purchased on behalf of farmers, semen from breeds such as Friesian, Guernsey, Jersey, Brown Swiss, Boran and Sahiwal from Kenya Animal Genetic Resources Centre (KAGRC) at Kabete.
South Eastern Kenya University (SEKU) will provide technical support by conducting breeding trials at its main campus, training of the inseminators and developing dry land pasture seeds.
According to Nzau, the programme’s main objective is to produce both pure and cross-breed dairy animals from the local dairy herds and the local indigenous Zebu and Boran cattle herds.