Investment in livestock value chain can help pastoralists adapt to climate change
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25 February 2018
Author :   Isaiah Esipisu
Dr Gakuo on his animal fattening paddock : >> Image Credits by:Isaiah Esipisu

KIGANJO, Kenya (PAMACC News) - On a private paddock in Kiganjo, along Thika-Nanyuki highway, Dr James Gakuo is busy de-worming a herd of 100 cattle he just purchased from Isiolo County. The animals are extremely emaciated, almost at the verge of death.  

In another shed just a few meters away, a herd of 150 well built cattle is feeding on a special floor-like organic ration locally prepared using grain by-products and oil crops such as barley, sunflower and cotton seed-cake that Gakuo grinds and blends at his feed production factory in Kiganjo.  

“These animals at one point were skinny like the others. I brought them from Northern Kenya while they were emaciated and fed them and look at them now, they are ready for the market,” says Gakuo, a veterinary expert. He is in the business of adding value to such emaciated animals, before releasing them to the market.

And now, after a long research, a new study by scientists drowns from different parts of the world recommends that county governments in semi arid lands in Kenya should customize followGakuo’s example as one way of developing climate-resilient economies through vertical and horizontal transformation in the beef value chain.

According to Dr Stephen Moiko, the lead researcher for a study on ‘Livestock Production and Value Chains: Adaptation under Climate & Land Tenure Changes,’ One of the ways of building resilience is by investing in projects that improve the quality of beef along the value chain.
“This can be done by fattening the animals at producer level, and also by having improved marketing at processor level, and as well by researching and developing of alternative feed sources and breeds,” said Moiko.

Gakuo’s enterprise also shows that there are adaptation options for business and private sector investment opportunities in responding to climate change.

The PRISE study, jointly funded by the Canada based International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the UK based Department for International development (DFID) and implemented in Kenya by the Kenya Markets Trust (KMT) also calls for diversification of pastoralist livelihoods through tourism, as a sector that complements and supports the livestock sector.

According to Moiko, livestock traders and businessmen respondents during the research pointed out that good quality meat was not easy to find in the market, given the prevailing tough climatic conditions. As a result, end consumers are now opting for white meat instead.

However, Gakuo has proven that apart from taking the animals to ranches for fattening, it is possible to improve the quality of the meat using short-term intensive fattening system for better profits.

“If we had fattening programs in all the pastoralist counties, then it would be easier for individuals to pay some fee for fattening animals whenever drought strikes. Once an animal is fit enough, it will automatically fetch better prices from meat processors who are always out to get good quality products for the end consumer,” said Dr Gakuo.

The study, which is part of the Pathways to Resilience in Semi-arid Economies (PRISE) further calls for hHolistic planning of pasture management in the group ranches and private ranches to support production, and effective methods of delivering climate risk information in good time.
“There is also need for county government to raise awareness campaigns on the potential climate change adaptation measures and opportunities for investment,” said Moiko.

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