Caritas Nairobi recently launched the Kiambu Dairy Project (KDP) aimed at improving the quality and quantity of milk production in the county. The launch took place at the Archdiocesan Limuru Farm during the official opening of the Archdiocese of Nairobi Annual Farmers Day.
The Kiambu Dairy Project (KDP) was launched in partnership with Caritas Nairobi, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the County Government of Kiambu. The two-year project centers on the provision of gender –selected Artificial Insemination (AI) services that guarantees farmers the calved cow has specific qualities desired, in this case, high breed heifers.
The project that targets to serve 600 cows will benefit Ituutu, Matunguru, Githovokoni and Gituamba locations in Kaimbu.
The project is in two phases and we are currently in the first phase of implementation. We are hopeful that 600 heifers will be calved as this will also boost the sustainability of the heifer project,” said Mr. Timothy Njeru, Caritas Nairobi, Agriculture and Environment Programme Coordinator.
The Agriculture Programme in 2012 rolled out the Heifer project that benefits the most vulnerable in the Archdiocese of Nairobi. Caritas Nairobi with assistance from local parishes and government agencies, identifies individuals and gives them heifers on loan basis which is payable in three years once the farmers starts earning from the cow.
Because the essence of the Heifer project is to reach out to a large number of the marginalized, once the cow gives birth to a heifer, the beneficiary is required to pass it on to a new beneficiary. To encourage this, the loan is halved.
However, in some instance, the heifer transfer is broken when the calved cow is a bull and the farmer has to retain it and also pay the loan in full amount. With the AI project, however the sustainability of the Heifer project has been heightened as farmers are almost guaranteed of the cow siring a heifer. Meaning more people in the community will benefit from the passing on of the heifer from farmer to farmer.
To ensure delivery of professional AI services, Caritas Nairobi will closely work with AI service providers and monitor consistently. Lack of enough trained personnel has equally contributed to the service being performed by unskilled persons. To counter this, Cairtas Nairobi will consistently train service providers and farmers on appropriate livestock management.
“Considering the calved cows will be high breed, different from what the farmers are used to. Therefore, it is important that farmers are trained on the management of these breeds. This will also enhance sustainability of the project,” said Mr.Njeru.
Kiambu County is among the highest milk producers in Central Kenya given its higher population of dairy cows compared to other areas in Central. However, reports for Central Kenya indicate that milk production in Kaimbu County has the potential to grow.
The KDP project specifically targets to improve the socio-economic status of families by proactively empowering women and female-headed households; at least 50 % of beneficiaries in any activity will be women.
The dairy industry in Kenya is an integral contributor to the country’s economy. It accounts between 6-8 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and 14 percent of the agricultural Gross Domestic Product. The sector plays an important role in food security, income generation and employment creation.
According to Consumer Milk Perception by USAID’s Kenya Dairy Sector Competitiveness Program, an estimated 1 million jobs at farm level and an additional 500, 000 in direct waged employment and another 750, 000 jobs in support service.There is therefore a need to improve the efficiency of dairy production specifically focusing on the improvement and implementation of value chain channels.
This year’s Annual Farmers Day was graced by His Eminence John Cardianal Njue who urged farmers to adopt agricultural practices that are environmentally friendly. A total of 11heifers were loaned.