By KARLO OFFICIAL, & BONIFACE MULU, On Monday,February 15, 2021
The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KARLO) has developed dairy technologies, innovations and management practices (TIMPs) through research to address some challenges in the value chain.
The remarks have been made by the KARLO Dairy Value Chain Coordinator, Dr. Paul Taipa Leparmarai.
“These TIMPs include assisted reproduction technologies (ART) in dairy cattle breeding, disease tolerant basal and supplementary forages, forage conservation technologies, feed rations for improved production, fortification of feeds, milk value addition and manure management,” he added.
The training currently being undertaken in Kitui by the KALRO scientists will provide the trainer of trainers drawn from Machakos and Tharaka Nithi Counties with knowledge and skills on dairy cattle management focusing on dairy cattle breeding and management, efficient feeds production, dairy feed budgeting and utilisation of feeds, milk handling and processing, and manure management for bioenergy, the expert further said.
The scientist was lecturing participants during a one week (Sunday, February 7, 2021 to Monday, February 15, 2021) climate smart agriculture technologies dairy value chain trainer of trainers training seminar organised by the KARLO in partnership with the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP) and the World Bank at the Kitui Agricultural Training Centre.
The participants were from Machakos and Tharaka Nithi Counties. The KARLO is one of the state corporations under the Kenya’s Agriculture Ministry.
Leparmarai said that the dairy sub-sector in Kenya is considered the most developed in the Sub-Saharan Africa. “At the national level, this sector contributes some 3.5 per cent of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The current milk output is estimated at 5.2 billion litres per annum out of which some 60 per cent is from grade dairy cattle and their crosses while the remaining 40 per cent comes from zebu, camel and goats,” the researcher said.
And he also disclosed that the national dairy herd is estimated at 3.3 million heads majority of which are grade cattle. The KARLO official said the smallholder farmers account for about 2.5 million dairy cows producing more than 80 per cent of the total national milk output.
“Of the total milk produced, about 60 per cent is marketed through traders, cooperatives, hotels and kiosks,” the expert said. An estimated 84 per cent of the milk produced is sold in raw form.
It is further estimated that in the entire milk commodity chain, from producers (farmers) to milk hawkers, nearly one million households and business are involved, he said.
“Today, the informal milk sector accounts for more than 70 per cent of the 40,000 jobs in dairy marketing alone and further directly supports over 350,000 others in formal employment,” Leparmarai said.
Considering that there are nearly one million smallholder farmers for whom dairy is a family business, it is likely that more than two million people derive livelihood from the dairy sector, he added.
“However, despite the plausible performance, the Kenya’s dairy industry is bedeviled by several challenges of which inadequate feed, prevalence of diseases especially tick-borne, availability of quality replacement stock, low adoption of technologies and high cost of farm inputs including fodder/pasture seeds and low milk value addition among dairy producers are the most critical,” Leparmarai said.
The dairy TIMPS are part of the activities under the World Bank-funded Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project, the expert said. And he added that the KALRO is expected to provide technologies and promote and facilitate adoption of agricultural technologies, innovations, management and practices to achieve the climate smart technologies triple-wins of increased productivity, enhanced resilience, and reduced greenhouse emissions.
The KSCAP’s direct beneficiaries are estimated at about 521,500 households of smallholder farmers, agro-pastoralists, and pastoralists, according to the KARLO official.
Leparmarai said approximately 163,350 households organised in about 4,950 common interest groups (CIGs) and some 18,150 households in 1,100 vulnerable and marginalised groups (VMGs) will benefit from the community supported agriculture (CSA) micro projects.
The other KARLO scientists who were also training the participants were Miriam Nakeel, Humphrey Oyugi, John Nguru, John Muia, William Ayako and Winnie Gichina.