allAfrica - Dairy farmers in Eastern Province are to benefit from a $4.5 million (Sh325 million) programme funded by the American government.
Speaking yesterday during the launch of the Kenya Food for Progress Programme at the Windsor hotel, Livestock and Fisheries minister, Joseph Munyao, said the assistance would help 20,000 people in the marginal districts of Machakos, Makueni, Mbeere, Meru and Embu districts.
The three year programme will be implemented in three phases by Land O' Lakes International Development, under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
The minister said the programme was aimed at addresing the challenges in the dairy sector, particularly in raising productivity and marketing for value addition, including the small-holder dairy farmers. He said the recently concluded Kenya Dairy Development Project (KDDP) was carried out in high potential areas of Central and Rift Valley provinces, and its successes would be replicated in the marginal districts of Eastern province.
The programme in collaboration with other stakeholders, he said, will provide technical and training assistance to all the players in the value chain by imparting skills in productivity and marketing efficiency to enable them compete effectively in the local and international market. "The programme should therefore address the issue of unreliable animal feeds by building farmers capacity in terms of feed conservation techniques and use of farm by-products during the dry seasons," he said.
Mr Munyao said the programme should support co-operatives to enable farmers access and offer quality artificial insemination services at affordable prices to the small--holders.
He said the liberalisation of the sector had resulted in limited use of artificial insemination by the smallholder farmers. On marketing, he said, technical barriers would be eliminated and farmers linked to suppliers.
The minister added that growth in milk production was estimated at 4.1 per cent per year, generating about 365,000 waged jobs and another 30,000 in the processing and marketing chain. US Ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, said the Land O' Lakes would provide 25,000 metric tonnes of wheat for the animal feeds in the three years.