Milk processors and counties are joining hands in a bid to reduce farmers’ losses
The rising cases of livestock diseases has been cited as one of the challenges that stand in the way of the country achieving food security.
Experts say already the diseases have significantly reduced dairy and beef production, significantly eating into the earnings of farmers.
“Incidents of livestock diseases present loss of opportunity for dairy farmers,” said Brookside Dairy milk procurement director Mr John Gethi.
Low coverage of vaccination has been blamed for the increased cases of diseases such as Rift Valley Fever (RVF) and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), which continue to ravage livestock in various counties.
Nakuru County, a dairy farming hub in the country, and which has been hit hard by livestock diseases, says it has put in place measures to curb the spread of the ailments.
The county agriculture executive Dr Immaculate Maina said areas hit by Foot and Mouth Disease such as Rongai were quarantined while vaccination has been been taken a notch higher.
“The county has stepped up vaccination of animals particularly during this rainy season when the diseases are rampant and already over 2,000 cattle have received the jab against the disease,” said Dr Maina.
She said the county’s efforts have been boosted by veterinary interns from the national government.
“We have a least an intern veterinary officer in all our 11 sub counties who are assisting livestock farmers to detect early signs of the diseases such as foot and mouth,” said Dr Maina.
RVF is a viral disease of livestock that also affects humans who get into contact with blood or tissues of infected animals.
The last major outbreak of the disease occurred in 2006/2007 after the end of the El Nino rains and killed at least 160 people and resulted to Sh4billion losses in the livestock sector.
Early this year, a number of counties, including Nakuru, Elgeyo Marakwet, Busia, Trans Nzoia and Vihiga imposed quarantines on animal movement after incidents of Foot and Mouth disease were detected.
“We have taken this war against these deadly diseases to the doorsteps of our producers by posting animal health experts to train farmers on common diseases like mastitis,” said Mr Gethi at a recent farmers’ training session in Olenguruone, Nakuru County.
“Farmers must invest in scheduled vaccination to ensure that diseases are kept at bay to enable the dairy herd produce optimally.”
The official warned that livestock disease outbreaks can have major economic losses and trade reductions.
Dr Maina said Nakuru County is ready to support urban farmers to prevent the occurrence of the disease.
“We don’t want to take chances and since dairy is now thriving even in our urban neighbourhoods we want to scale the fight of the deadly livestock diseases to the next level,” added Dr Maina.
Brookside is banking on its vaccination campaign to stave off diseases from the livestock of its suppliers.
“Vaccination is a life insurance to producers’ animals as it guards against potential risk of animal disease attacks,” said Mr Gethi.
“We are using our dairy training courses across the country to pass on the message on the need for scheduled vaccination programs by our farmers.”
According to the Kenya Veterinary Vaccines Production Institute (KEVEVAPI) Kenya has a massive livestock resource comprising of 3.4 million exotic cattle, 14.1 million indigenous cattle, 17.1 million sheep, 27.7 million goats, 2.9 million camels 25.8 indigenous chicken and 6.1 million exotic chicken.
The high prices of vaccines has seen many farmers lose their animals as disease take a huge toll on their livestock.
Industry players now want the government to push for mandatory vaccination of animals to forestall occurrence of diseases such as Rift Valley Fever.