I’m Philip Kabiru from Ngiroche sub-location, Gichugu constituency, Kirinyaga County in Central Kenya. I am 35 years and I am passionate about change.
Dairy goat farming has been taken up in many parts of Kenya as an alternative income and food source. Rearing dairy goats has been proven to reduce livelihood vulnerability through enhancing resilience of communities and food security. Dairy goats require fewer resources to maintain but give higher returns per unit area as compared to dairy cattle.
Increasing pressure on land and water resources, changing economic and climatic conditions and bad pricing of livestock present developmental challenges for developing countries. Within these countries, intensification of livestock production using more productive livestock genotypes has been advocated as a means of improving livelihoods (Freeman et al; 2007, Sere et al; 2007). However, successful dairy goat improvement programs are limited in Kenya.
Successful livestock improvement programs focusing on low-input production systems are possible using a community-based approach. Through strong capacity building initiatives at the grassroots level, producers can be empowered to undertake a dairy goat improvement program suitable to their local conditions.
According to estimates, the dairy sub-sector is a major source of livelihoods for over 1,000,000 smallholder producers. The sub-sector provides employment to about 365,000 people along the milk value chain and contributes approximately 3.5% of Kenya’s GDP. The sub-sector is characterized by smallholder producers mainly producing cow’s milk.
However, due to inefficiencies related to smallholding, dairy goat production has been introduced as a viable alternative. Dairy goat production faces myriad challenges related to breeding, husbandry and marketing. The project is possible because of a committed pool of dairy goat farmers with previous experience, a pool of improved goats that can be used as a foundation stock, dairy goat farmer groups, relatively high levels of literacy and eagerness to learn.
There are a number of opportunities such as emerging markets for dairy goats and goat products, a health-conscious milk market, diminishing land sizes and a developed milk industry with creameries that are willing to process and market dairy goat milk. At the same time, there are a number of shortcomings such as gaps in training (especially regarding feeding and breeding), retrogressive breeding techniques (genetic potential of bucks untested), lack of a reliable and uniform breeding record system, limited local tailored technologies for dairy goat production and low levels of milk production.
These problems are due to low levels of producer-market communication, decreased interest and biased target groups; past programmes neglected progressive, resourceful farmers and concentrated on low income farmers, thereby reducing the adoption rate). The goal of this initiative is to increase the income of rural agricultural households that depend substantially on the production and trade of agricultural/livestock produce.
The business model aims at supporting a market-oriented dairy goat enterprise. Farmer groups that participated in previous programmes will be the initial focus. Training on husbandry, breed improvement through artificial insemination, registration and milk recording will be the initial activities. Through the groups, farmers will be able to access services such as training, artificial insemination, animal health, agro-Inputs and extension.
Appropriate breeding technologies, local availability of good quality dairy goats, optimal management packages, good nutrition, value addition, marketing options and housing are immediate key issues that need addressing to achieve the potential value of goat milk. These are initiatives that require a good understanding of local situations and the environment that dairy goat farmers operate in.
So far we have managed to establish a goat barn comprising 10 does and one buck, and these represent three varieties: 6 toggenburg, 2 saanen and 2 Kenya alphines. The goat barn is designed to hold 32 goats as there are 16 cages that can each hold two goats.
The next step is to develop new recording practices that are coded in sequences to ensure credibility and effectiveness. It will be modeled after the Kenya stud book to ensure that the registrations tally with what is on the farm and in their offices. Software will be developed to ensure the record of each goat is kept and one is able to monitor their progress.
At the end we will be able to produce at least two litres per goat per day. Quality goats will also be produced that will be sold to the common interest farmers who rear goats, so as to phase out low quality bloodstock. Bucks will be eliminated after every two years to ensure no cases of inbreeding arise.
There is great need for internalization of the concept by farmers for this project to be successful. Internalization is a slow process that takes longer than the normal program periods of most development agencies. This need therefore calls for the involvement of local, community-based organizations that can carry on the process to the final commercial phase and internalization.
In order to fulfill all this we require 5 more quality goats at a cost of $1500, feed and veterinary services at $1000, production of hay at $500, acquisition of a fridge for milk storage at $600, purchase of software at $700, artificial insemination services at $500 and general supplies and transportation at $200.
With these supplies we will be able to produce, sell and sustain the project, bearing in mind that the goats will be able to give birth twice a year and there is ready market for milk offered by Toggs, Kenya.
I call upon people of like minds, the general public and organizations to join hands to be able to offer a model that is easy to adopt by everyone for self-reliance and nutritional value.
Blogpost and picture submitted by Philip Kabiryu (Kirinyaga, Kenya) – phildikab[at]yahoo.com
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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