This follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the KCB Foundation and Taita Taveta County Government that seeks to commercialise livestock farming and ensure farmers reap maximum benefits from their produce.
KCB Foundation will provide interest free loans to cooperatives in the dairy, meat and fish value chains for value addition, market expansion, health, nutrition and breed improvement programmes.
KCB Foundation has committed Sh30 million for these loans while the County Government of Taita Taveta has committed to invest over Sh59 million.
KCB Chief Executive officer Joshua Oigara says the main focus is to transform traditional cattle rearing into viable commercial entities by providing the necessary training and support to the farmers.
“The project will help reduce poverty levels in the County by increasing job opportunities if the sector is fully commercialised,” added Oigara.
Taita Taveta County is a major livestock rearing zone with main types of livestock kept being beef cattle, dairy cows, sheep, goats, camels, pigs and poultry.
The livestock population is currently estimated at 179,864 cattle, 480125 goats, 55,540 sheep, 671,174 poultry, 3,568 donkeys and 1,286 camels.
There are 28 ranches with over 40,000 members (households) – 16pc of the county population.
On his part Taita Taveta Governor, John Mruttu challenged the farmers to shun from traditional farming methods and embrace commercialized farming and noted that 66 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and contributes 1.1 percent to national poverty.
“This livestock programme brings hope to the marginalized especially the aged, disabled, small farm holders (with less than 0.05 Ha of land), the landless, squatters, children, and female headed households who are worst hit by poverty,” said Mruttu.
Statistics show that unemployment rate in the County is partly attributable to low literacy among the population, limited employment opportunities, retrogressive cultural practices, and frequent human wildlife conflicts.