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Kenyans turns to feedlots to boost beef
production for local and export markets

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Perennial death of cattle in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid areas in the North is set to be a thing of the past as the government moves to establish feedlots.

Kenya has in the last few years been experiencing severe drought in the drylands, where 90 percent of beef animals are kept.

During such times, pastoralists lose thousands of animals to drought due to lack of pasture.

The lucky ones normally move to other areas but this has always led to conflict over resources, including pasture and water.

Others have been selling the animals for as low as 5 U.S. dollars for goats and sheep to escape losses.

Over the years, the government has been buying animals from farmers to cushion them from losses but this model has been unsustainable so far.

Feedlots, therefore, offer the best solution as the effects of climate change become more severe in the East African nation’s arid areas.

The feedlots are special holding zones for animals where they are treated, fed with various protein rations to boost weight gain and then released for the market for slaughter.

"The country has experienced drought in many arid and semi-arid counties.

"To mitigate the effects of drought, the department of livestock wishes to engage feedlot operators to establish strategic holding zones in various parts of the country," said principal secretary in the department of livestock Andrew Tuimur.

The Kenya government seeks to establish the feedlots in 12 arid counties namely Machakos, Isiolo, Laikipia, Tana River, Lamu, Narok, Baringo, Kajiado, Marsabit, Kwale, Taita Taveta and West Pokot.

The overall aim of the project, according to Tuimur, is to boost food security, which is one of the main goals of the Big Four agenda through increase of supply of livestock for the local and export market.

Henry Wandera, an economics lecturer, said feedlots would unlock the economic potential of arid areas.

"That culture of losing animals due to drought would be a thing of the past.

"Pastoralist would sell their animals at good prices after rearing them for some years," he noted.

Kenya’s beef exports were denied entry into the European Union due to diseases, years back.

But with feedlots, Wandera sees the resurgence of beef export trade as the animals would be kept in special zones, where their origin can be easily traced in case they are to be sold for export.

"Botswana exports beef to the EU because of feedlots. Why not Kenya, a bigger economy?

This is a step in the right direction," he concluded.


African Union and Kenya plan to improve camel productivity through new drug

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The African Union and Kenya are set to unveil a new camel drug to help increase productivity and improve livelihoods in the Horn of Africa market.

Judith Chemuliti, Director of Kenya’s Biotechnology Research Institute (BioRI) said on Thursday that once the study 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," Chemuliti said during the project launch in Nairobi

She blamed tryquin’s ineffectiveness for the spread of surra, a camel trypanosomiasis disease that is a constraint to camel production.

Chemuliti, who is also the study’s Principal Investigator, said that the study will help contribute to development of pastoral communities through sustainable intensification of pastoral livelihoods.

The scientist noted that the three-year study which will be funded by the African Union will be carried out in Somaliland in northern and northeastern Kenya.

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 Chemuliti, 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.

She 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.

She said that the researchers will also build capacity of animal health workers in the region to better manage and control surra.

Eluid Kireger, the Director General of Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) said the study will 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 study 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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