The Taita County government has launched a goat and cattle auction to boost livestock production in the region at time when the number of cattle, goats and sheep slaughtered increased by 5.3 per cent and 12 per cent respectively due to increased livestock takeoff attributed to prolonged drought in 2017.
According to the 2018 economic survey report released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics in April, the number cattle and calves slaughtered in abattoirs rose from 2.46m in the year 2016 to 2.59m in 2017.
During the same period under review, the survey reveals that the total number of sheep and goats slaughtered for meat consumption purposes increased to 9.21m from 8.22m recorded in the previous year.
In the current Kenyan market the cost of a cow ranges between Sh20,000 to Sh80,000. The cost of sheep and goats is between Sh5000 to Sh13000 depending on the weight and age.
Government launches livestock insurance policy to help farmers prevent losses
Water harvesting increases Mwingi farmer’s livestock herd
Cactus emerges as a feed for livestock
The National government in collaboration with the county is working on a Sh2.6bn livestock export zone in Bachuma, Taita Taveta in a bid geared towards encouraging farmers in the country gain access to international markets.
The export zone will have a holding area that sits on a 15,000 acre piece of land where cattle, sheep and goats will be separated (quarantined) for 60 days before being certified as disease free.
They will then be transported to the port of Mombasa for export to the Middle East market according to the ministry of agriculture, state department of livestock.
The county is one of the arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya where livestock farming is practiced besides Tana River, Garissa, Turkana, Marsabit, Isiolo, Baringo, West Pokot and Kajiado among other regions.
In March this year, farmers in Nakuru County earned six million shillings from the first ever goat auction conducted in the County. Similalry, Baringo farmers sold more earned Sh30m two years ago in the famous Kimalel goat auction that is done once every year.
In 2017, Kenya exported 400 heads of cattle to the Middle East region but hopes to leverage on the export processing zone to improve the exports to the gulf market.
According to the Kenya Dairy Board, the country has a cattle population of 17.4m, sheep population of 17.1m and a goats’ population of 27.7m.
In this, Taita region has 111,158 cattle, 26,274 sheep and 103,392 goats. Taveta region on the other hand has 42,610 herds of cattle, 19,053 sheep and 63,268 goats.
According to the Kenya Veterinary Vaccines Production Institure, the livestock sector contributes about 12% of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 40% to the agricultural GDP and employs 50% of agricultural labor force. About 60% of Kenya’s livestock herd is found in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs), which constitute about 80% of the country. It is estimated that 10 million Kenyans living in the ASALs derive their livelihood largely from livestock.