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Ministry cries for cattle farmers

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 2 – The Livestock Ministry has appealed to its Finance counterpart to increase funding to the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) for the purchase of cattle from drought-stricken areas.

Livestock Assistant Minister Bare Aden Duale said on Tuesday that the Sh500 million given to KMC in January was not enough to purchase 30,000 cows for processing into corned beef and saving the country the economic loss if they were to die of drought.

“We are talking of Sh8 million per constituency for the 23 constituencies that have been affected. Sh8 million can only buy 600 cattle,” he protested.

Since the program was launched, only about 7,000 heads of cattle have been bought, processed into beef and are awaiting distribution as relief food by the Special Programmes ministry.

Farmers have been advised to sell off their livestock so that they can have the money to meet their financial obligations and re-stock once the drought ends.

Mr Duale spoke during the launch of the ‘Partnership for Safe Poultry’ initiative where he disclosed that a National Poultry Policy would be presented to Parliament soon.

The policy is expected to outline several measures to increase the competitiveness of the industry which contributes 0.7 percent to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“It’s basically an institutional reform policy that will look at the health of the poultry, the marketing, the role of the private sector, how to detect diseases such as the Avian influenza and the like. It is a good policy which will come to Parliament next week after the Cabinet’s approval,” he explained.

During the workshop, participants heard that diseases such as Newcastle and Bird/Avian flu are the major impediments to the sector. For instance in 2006 the Avian flu scare cost the industry Sh2.4 billion.

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Other challenges such as costly inputs and the difficulty in accessing markets would also be addressed within the framework in order to support this sub-sector, which provides direct and indirect employment to three million people and is a source of food for millions more.

Mr Duale said the government would strive to provide an enabling environment for the sub-sector to thrive but he also challenged the private sector to invest in facilities that can promote sector growth and in turn that of the livestock industry which contributes 10 percent of the GDP.

Some of these investments, he suggested, could be in slaughterhouses to ensure that poultry meat and related products are processed under internationally-acceptable standards.

Currently, the country has just two processing plants which contribute to the annual output of 19,000 Metric tonnes of poultry meat.

The ‘partnership for safe poultry’ is a USAID initiative which was designed to provide technical assistance to stakeholders in addressing all these constraints within 12 months.

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