Waiguru’s subsidized Artificial Insemination Program boosts dairy farming in Kirinyaga
At least 3,800 farmers in Kirinyaga County have benefitted from subsidized Artificial Insemination (AI) services that seeks to upgrade the county’s cattle breeds to increase milk production.
The AI services being offered under Governor Anne Waiguru’s Wezesha Kirinyaga empowerment program targets to have over 50,000 cows served with semen for high milk producing cattle breeds.
Governor Waiguru says the initiative aims at giving dairy farmers new breed that will increase milk production from the current five liters to around 12 liters per cow per day enabling farmers earn more money from sale of milk.
Some of the cows that were served last year when the initiative was launched have calved.
The AI program is being undertaken through four Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) targeting 60 dairy community interest groups.
“We are upgrading the county’s cattle breeds through artificial insemination with the aim of increasing milk production, our plan is to have the affordable AI services reach every dairy farmer in the entire county,” Waiguru added.
Initially, farmers would pay between Ksh.1000 to Ksh.2000 for each cow served but the initiative has seen this drop to Ksh 500 per animal.
Waiguru says that through the initiative, the CBOs are being provided with semen, nitrogen tanks and technical expertise to provide the AI services to dairy farmers.
“The ultimate goal of this program is to ensure that farmers increase their milk production and get more value from it so that they can uplift their living standards,” said the governor.
The AI services support project is a partnership between the County Government and Kenya Animal Genetic Resource Center (KAGRIC).
“The initiative has significantly reduced the cost of AI services while at the same time improving the quality of the breeds the farmers get, this will translate into increased milk production when the calves mature to start milk production,” Waiguru noted.
Farmers whose cows have been served and have already calved are excited and are looking forward to high milk production in coming years.
“The county government through Wezesha program has provided us with machines to produce quality and affordable feeds for our cattle and this has helped us increase milk production, we are hoping the improved breeds will more than double our current milk production,” said Titus Gatua, a member of Ndia Dairy CBO.
Speaking when receiving nitrogen tanks, Gatua said the tanks for storage of semen will go a long way in improving the breeds of their cattle as well as increase milk production which will translate into increased income for farmers.
“Farmers are very excited about the affordable AI services and the extension officers are very prompt. Previously, we would be charged Ksh. 1000 for our cows to be served but now, it has gone down to Ksh. 500 and we are extremely grateful to the County Government,” said Gatua.
Judy Muthoni, one of the dairy farmers whose cows have calved said she has increased her herd from three to nine cows courtesy of the support from the county government.
Three of her cows which were served with the improved breeds’ semen have already calved.
“When I started, I just had three cows but now under Wezesha, I have nine. So far, eight of my cows have been served with the improved breed semen and three of them have calved. The calves are of very good quality. Wezesha has enabled us to make our own feeds meaning we do not spend a lot of money on feeds so, slowly am expanding by adding my stock,” said Muthoni.
Speaking while visiting one of the farmers, the County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Livestock, Veterinary and Fisheries, Dr. John Gachara, said apart from the affordable AI, the county government is also supporting 66 dairy farmer’s groups across the county to produce quality feeds for improvement of their dairy cattle nutrition which will in turn increase milk production.
“We intend to go further beyond here and ensure that through dairy cooperatives, farmers are fetching good money for their milk. We will have a milk processing plant in the upcoming industrial park at Sagana for value addition to our milk which is key to the improvement of the profitability of the milk,” said Gachara.
The dairy improvement program has seen groups receive animal feed mixer, single phase motors, hay balers, motorized grass cutters and choppers. The groups also got the initial raw materials such as wheat bran, maize and sunflower seeds to make feeds. Some of the dairy cooperative societies have also been supplied with milk coolers and yoghurt making machines.