Poor livestock management practices and harsh weather conditions have been cited as major factors contributing to the country’s declining beef production.
Latest data from the Ministry of Agriculture indicate that the country’s annual demand for beef stands at 300,000 metric tonnes against a production of 260,000 metric tonnes.
Speaking at KALRO farm in Naivasha, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) Director General, Dr. Eliud Kireger said they have introduced cross- breeding to improve quality of livestock as a way to bridge the deficit.
He noted that the country has the potential of meeting its beef demand if the livestock sector was well managed. To this end, KALRO is working with livestock farmers in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) in carrying out the cross breeding exercise.
The DG was speaking as he presided over a training workshop for farmers from Kajiado, Tana River and Taita Taveta counties.
“The country imports a bulk of its beef from neighboring countries yet we have the potential of meeting our local demand,” he added.
The Director further said that KALRO in partnership with World Bank had embarked on an exercise of training livestock farmers on beef production and value chain to help upgrade the sector.
He however said the biggest challenge in exporting the country’s beef was the low quality of livestock which affected the market price.
According to the DG, the national government through the Ministry of Agriculture was in the process of constructing an export processing zone in Taita Taveta where all livestock that will be exported from the country will pass through to ensure that they are free of diseases and are of good quality.
He however downplayed the issue of drug-residue in livestock products consumed in the country noting that farmers had been trained on good use of pesticides and other farm chemicals.
Speaking to Livestock extension officer from Tana River, Simon Wambugu said that over 35 groups from the county will benefit from the beef value chain production training and admitted that despite the harsh weather conditions in the county, farmers had a potential of producing more livestock products through such trainings.
One of the farmers Ali Karisa termed the training as an eye opener, adding that it will help improve their livestock rearing and help farmers combat the challenges of quality of semen and animal feeds in their region.