Establishing a Village Cattle Fattening and Demonstration Farm for poverty reduction in Homabay District
This project aims at improving productivity and profitability of indigenous cattle production by fattening cows and enhancing the capacity of rural farmers in cattle production and management.
Establishing a Village Cattle Fattening and Demonstration Farm for poverty reduction in Homabay District
The level of poverty in rural areas in Kenya is high and continues to increase jeopardizing the achievement of the first millennium development goal. Indigenous cattle (IC) have been utilized to provide household food and income to the rural poor. However, their profitability has been minimal due to low genetic potential of the IC coupled, inadequate management capacity of the rural farmer and poor market infrastructures. Extension service provision effort by the government has been minimal due to inadequate resources. The project proposes to establish a cattle fattening and demonstration farm at the village level to improve on the profitability and enhance the capacity of the local communities in cattle production and management. This will benefit 100 farmers directly and the whole division. The project will sustain itself through profit generated form sold animals.
In Kenya, agriculture is the backbone of the economy and accounts for 21.4% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with the livestock sub-sector contributing 10% (Republic of Kenya, 2006). Livestock production in Nyanza province contributes to the rural livelihood base and family income (Kenya Ministry of Agriculture, 2008). The area is characterized by 70% mixed crop and livestock systems of farming. The province which constitutes 14% of the human population (KNBS, 2010) is one of the poorest provinces with 63% of the population living on less than $1 a day (Republic of Kenya, Central Bureau of Statistics, 2003). The province is also characterized by high levels of malnutrition and food insecurity contributing to the rising mortality and underdevelopment of children under five years of age (FSNS, 2008). In addition, the province has the highest HIV and Malaria prevalence (KNASP 2010; KDHS 2008).
The Indigenous Zebu cattle (IC), mainly the East African Zebu, have been utilized by the communities in Nyanza to ensure availability of food and income to the rural poor farmers and could form appropriate tool for alleviating poverty and improving food security among these population. In fact close to 87% of cattle in Nyanza are indigenous (KNBS, 2010). Besides, IC farming provides agricultural inputs such as draft power and organic fertilizer as a direct contribution for crop production. Indigenous livestock are preferred among poor smallholder farmers for their adaptation to production environment and low production input requirements. Recognition and conservation of the valuable traits in indigenous animal genetic resources would lead to sustainable agriculture. The IC are adapted to harsh environments and have the ability to utilize poor quality feeds and therefore should be at the core of livestock production improvement programme (FAO, 2000). The IC is suitable for lowland areas with higher disease incidence and reduced feed availability because of its tolerance to drought, disease resistance, low feed intake, better traction ability and preferred coat colour.
Homabay County, one of the six counties in Nyanza province is such place where IC is considered as a household asset and a reliable source of income for meeting financial needs of the poor farmers. Animals are sold to pay bills especially paying school fees and medical bills among other financial and cultural requirements. During periods of school opening and drought, animal prices are relatively lower than the market rate. This phenomenon is brought about by high supply and low demand leading to reduction in prices. Poor road and market infrastructure in the rural areas and lack of alternative markets with better prices drives the farmers to sell their stock at lower prices. In addition, during drought when there are inadequate feed resources, the livestock are emaciated with majority of the stock succumbing to death. To avoid extreme losses, the farmers sell their stock at low prices and hence their values go down. In addition, old ploughing oxen and culled cows are often fattened and sold to butchers for slaughter. After ploughing, when the ploughed oxen become older and if suspected not to be able to plough for the next season, farmers often decide to fatten their oxen and supply the market to replace young ploughing oxen for cultivation.
The IC with an estimated population of 1.5 millions constitutes close to 11% of the total population of indigenous cattle in Kenya (KNBS, 2010). They are generally small in body size and considered to be low producers of milk and meat although greater variation exists within the IC breed (Mwacharo et al., 2006). Previous studies reported that the average daily milk yield of 2kg and below (Rege et al., 2001). On growth performance, weight of cows at 18 months was 148Kg (Mwandotto et al., 1988). Despite the low productivity of traditional animal production systems, there are substantial potentials for development. Thus it is possible to improve the benefit gained from livestock in general and from cattle in particular by fattening of emaciated plowed oxen, culled cows, and steers results from the system which are beyond the requirement for plowing.
The key constraints to the cattle production in Nyanza province include poor quality and quantity of pasture, poor genetic resources of IC, prevalence of animal diseases and pests especially trypanosomiasis and east cost fever, unfavorable socio-economic factors, and lack of livestock policy (Chenyambuga et al., 2010). Hence, to satisfy the growing demand for livestock products in the mixed crop-livestock system of the Nyanza region, it is important to ensure the efficient use of the available feed resources, including crop-residues.
Though, Nyanza is known for its huge cattle population, most of the beef is produced under extensive low input system using IC hence beef production and productivity are very low as compared to the country’s average. This shows that beef cattle fattening activity could be one potential source for employment opportunity to alleviate poverty in the region if considerable attention is given for the sub sector. Farmers can derive substantial income from cattle fattening as well as maximize uses of farm resources provided that adequate capital to purchase stocks, ample knowledge in selecting stocks for fattening, and efficient feeding and disease management using local and available feed and drug resources.
Improving the live weight performance of the mature animals through fattening schemes using enhanced food rations formulated from locally available feed resources would boost producers’ incomes, increase the value of livestock trade, improve beef supply during the off-peak season by feeding animals strategically throughout the year and advance production towards achieving exportable surplus and participation in the lucrative global market for tender red meat. Studies in Mali have shown that fattening schemes are profitable, with benefit/cost ratios of 1.85 and 4.08 for large and small-scale cattle fattening operations (Diarra, 1997).
The socio-economic profile of Homabay County indicates that of a population living in abject poverty, experiencing high death rates and with a short life expectancy as compared to the rest of the country. Many farmers cannot access markets due to poor infrastructure hence most farmers sell their livestock at low prices during school opening seasons due to low demand and high supply. Moreover, due to inadequate feed resources, farmers sell emaciated cows during drought which attract low prices. In addition, there is inadequate disease control due to lack and/or high cost of drugs and poor farmer capacity in control of pests and parasites such as ticks and tsetse flies that has lead to loss of huge number of animals.
There is urgent need for integrated or specific targeted interventions to address the challenges of poverty and food insecurity to enable the community to move nearer the national average. This project is expected to fill part of the gap the government, NGOs and other CBOs have so far been unable to bridge by improving food security base. The project proposes to concentrate on improving livestock production among the communities as this livelihood competes in equal measure to crop production and fishing.
Cattle fattening needs to be boosted: Studies in other developing countries for example Mali have shown that fattening schemes are profitable, with benefit/cost ratios of 1.85 and 4.08 for large and small-scale cattle fattening operations (Diarra 1997). Fattening schemes can boost producers’ incomes, increase the value of livestock trade, and improve beef supply during the off-peak season by feeding animals strategically throughout the year and advance production towards achieving exportable surplus and participation in the lucrative global market for tender red meat.
Encouraging dry season livestock fattening schemes, especially among smallholders where it is more profitable and is likely to have widespread positive welfare impacts on lives of rural poor farmers.
- To establish a Village Cattle Fattening and Demonstration Farm
- To build capacity of the local farmers on livestock improvement techniques through the demonstration farm
- Improve the health condition and mature live weight of the IC
- Generate income through sale of fattened cattle
The project believes that livestock production should empower the rural poor and help them contribute to reducing their poverty. The impediment to livestock production as mentioned above can be summarized as poor nutrition of livestock, poor breeding practices and animal diseases.
The project in consultation with the villagers proposes to establish a simple Village Cattle Fattening and Demonstration Farm. The 100 acre piece of land is ideal as a small permanent river flows through it to allow watering the animals throughout the year and irrigating the grazing fields. The farm is easily accessible because of a permanent murram road passing along it. The project proposes to construct offices comprising administration block with three offices and one seminar room, one drug stores and three staff residences; fencing the farm perimeter wall using barbed wire mesh (heavy fencing) and live fencing by planting of trees to provide shade for the animals. Thirty acres of land will be used for paddocking and growing Napier grass which will be established for hey production and maize and millet will be planted for silage making. Appropriate fattening rations will be formulated using locally available feed resources in addition to what will be produced in the farm.
Livestock officers will be employed to run the farm and in collaboration with the ministry of livestock extension service providers will train the village livestock farmers on appropriate livestock improvement technologies. Training will be on simple affordable livestock improvement technologies; breed improvement; livestock Management Practices; Animal Health Practices; Forage Management and Credit and Microfinance. The villagers will be expected to pay token money to become members of this project. They will also be expected to pay token fee for training. Training will be both at the project and at home as the livestock officers will be required to train and visit the farmers at their homes (provide extension services).
One hundred emaciated/culled cattle will be bought from the village members and the local markets during offpeak seasons but at peak prices so that the farmers do not loose from low prices. These will be kept in the farm and fattened using rations developed from locally available feed resources. Mature and fattened cattle and their products will be sold directly to Kenya Meat Commission or to middlemen to generate revenue to sustain the centre after initial seed capital money has been secured from the donors since the project is expected to be self-sustaining. It is assumed that with healthy and proper well-reared livestock which will generate increased income at the farm, villagers will want to be educated on the skills to do the same.
Rapidly growing demand for milk and meat in the developing world and locally, presents a great opportunity for livestock farmers to sell their products. The farmers expect the project to assist them market their products as they lack the marketing skills currently. The meeting also proposed that as the projects matures and becomes profitable and self-sustaining in about three years time, the project should sell shares to the villagers to enable them to profit maximally from the project.
5. Sequence of activities to be implemented
The expected sequence of activities to be implemented is tabulated below:
SEQUENCE OF ACTIVITIES TO BE IMPLEMENTED
1 Fencing of the 100 acre plot 800,000.00
2 Physical Sub- division of the Farm for paddocks Farm and Houses 600,000.00
3 Construction ; 4,000,000.00
- Four Roomed office block
- Four, three bed roomed Residential House
- Silo House
- Prefabricated Lecture Room with a capacity for 100 learners
- One Cattle Dip
- One Drug Store
4 Purchase of furniture for offices 1,000,000.00
- Lecture Hall
- Tables (long tables for seminars)
- Chairs (100)
5 Purchase of office Equipment and lecture Room 500,000.00
- Two computer
- One printer
- One photocopier
6 Purchase of equipment for vet drug store 500,000.00
- Cabinets for drug store
- Purchase of drugs for farm and villagers use
6 purchase of a Double Cabin pick up Vehicle 3,000,000.00
7 Recruitment of : 750,000,00.00
- Two Livestock Officers for cows and sheep, and for poultry
- Secretary, Driver/Messenger and two Watchmen
- Foremen and herders
8 Training and seminars 2,000,000.00
- Fencing of the 100 acre plot;
- Sub-division and fencing into paddocks for grassing
- Construction of farm structures e.g., training facilities, farm offices/stores, and farm record rooms, farm houses for farm workers, cattle dip/crash and drug store; cow shelter/shades, water storage tanks, watering and feed troughs, silos
- Recruitment and maintenance of farm workers (personnel) to manage and run the cattle fattening scheme.
- Farm manager
- Vet officer
- Field officer
- Marketing officer
- Farm assistants
- Drugs (vaccines, dewormers, pesticides)
- Purchase of live animals
- Maize meal/cob meal
- Procurement and purchase of equipment and items
- emaciated livestock to be fattened
- second hand farm pick-up vehicle; and,
- Planting of trees for shade, Nappier for hey and silage- Maize silage – kikuyu grass hay, Lucerne for silage (very minimal quantity
The above items are estimated to cost Kenya shillings 12, 400, 000 (US $ 170,000) over three years.
6. Expected Output
i. A Fenced 100 acre Farm
ii. The Farm physically divided into areas for Paddocks, Demonstration Farm and Houses
iii. Farm Constructions Accomplished
iv. Cows, Sheep and Chickens purchased and Stocked in the farm
v. Farm personnel recruited.
vi. 100 learners identified and trained.
vii. A Double Cabin Pick-Up purchased.
7. Expected Outcome
i. Enhanced food and nutrition security
ii. Increased income
iii. Assets accumulated
iv. Increased knowledge and influence
v. Healthy livestock
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