NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 29 – The government is seeking the assistance of China to establish zones that are free from animal diseases to facilitate the movement of animals and promote trade in livestock and their related products.
Livestock Minister Mohammed Kuti said on Friday that the creation of disease free zones is an expensive affair with each area requiring an estimated Sh9 billion hence the need for support.
" You have to meet the check-list of the OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) which requires that you have to have very expensive fences, a critical number of veterinary officers, surveillance and laboratories within the facility and proper infrastructure to be able to meet OIE standards," explained Mr Kuti.
The establishment of the zones is one of the flagship projects that were identified in the Vision 2030\’s Medium Term Plan of 2008 to 2012 for the ministry with the aim of producing high quality animals and animal products for export and those that assure recipient countries that they are free from contamination and prohibited substances.
It was envisaged that with the zoning, the economy would save an estimated Sh21 billion every year that is lost due to the target diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease, Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy and the money spent to treat them.
Without the existence of such areas which means that Kenya has not met the international standards, the country has in the past been blocked from exporting animals and their meat due to the outbreak of diseases such as the Rift Valley Fever.
If the problem is addressed however, it would go a long way in unlocking the potential that exist in the country\’s meats\’ export market and contribute significantly towards the growth of the livestock sector which accounts for 10 percent of the GDP.
For instance, while the current beef population is estimated at nine million, most of it is consumed locally as the export market remains stifled.
"We also need your help in the areas of training, lab upgrades and research so that we can continue surveying diseases and new ones coming up so that we can continue developing the industry," Mr Kuti told the Chinese Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu who had paid him a courtesy call.
On his part, the Chinese Minister pledged his government\’s desire to help and suggested that the two ministries should develop exchange programmes and sign Memorandum of Understanding so as to strengthen cooperation between them.
Kenya has a great deal to learn from China where the livestock sector is a crucial pillar for the agricultural production as it has over the years been registering increased yields that meet the needs of the Chinese people.
Mr Han for example cited the 2010 beef output which stood at 79.25 million tonnes, that of eggs was 27.65 million tonnes and while that of milk was at 35.70 million tonnes which are among the highest in the world.
Most of these productions come from smallholder farmers who get a lot of support from the government, he added through a translator.
China, the minister added was also promoting the development of high quality breeds in the livestock sector, areas in which Kenyans can immensely benefit.
Later, Mr Han met Agriculture Ministry officials where they reviewed an MoU that the two sides signed in 2002 to strengthen the friendly relations in the agriculture field.
Agriculture Assistant Minister Gideon Ndambuki invited more Chinese investors to put their money in areas such as the establishment of fertiliser manufacturing plants, development of wholesale markets, agro-processing and value-addition.