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County roots for feed formulation to realise food sustainability

KNA   Animal feed is one of the key ingredients in ensuring optimum production and profits in livestock farming enterprises. Commercial feeds ensure high production and a faster maturity rate in livestock, fish and poultry farming.

            The biggest challenge in livestock, fish and poultry enterprises that farmers have faced over time is the costs incurred in purchasing these feeds. The high cost of feeds has become an expensive investment making the majority of farmers shy away from these enterprises.

            Consequently, the high costs of commercial feeds has forced the Migori County Government to come up with a structure to address the issue. According to Migori County Livestock Production Officer, George Adero, the county will allocate close to Sh200 million in the 2021-2022 financial year for Project Feed Formulation.

  Mr. Adero says that the high cost of feed production has resulted in the majority of able farmers to shun livestock, poultry, fish and bee production enterprises.

            He said the county will give farmers practical skills and knowledge on how to formulate feeds using locally available materials. “This will help farmers to reduce over dependence on purchased commercial feeds that are very expensive to acquire,” he added.

            The Kenya National Livestock Policy Development Session Paper of 2008 placed emphasis on encouraging indigenous feed enterprises that make use of local ingredients in formulating feeds for livestock, poultry and fish farming.

            Livestock feeds mostly consist of roughages that include grass and browse, concentrates (cereals like maize, beans and wheat) and animal by- products like fish meals which are readily available in Migori County.

            The session paper indicated that the task of meeting the increasing demand for animal feeds can best be realized through increased availability of indigenous feed production which was seen as an honest approach because of ease of availability of the raw materials.

            Migori climatic conditions are able to sustain a variety of crops like rice in Nyatike Sub County, maize, beans and sweet potato in Kuria and in the majority of the sub counties.

Mr Adero says that the by-products from these crops like rice bran, beans leaves and maize stalks are easily and readily available to make indigenous feed products that can be used by local farmers.

 According to the livestock officer, commercial feeds contribute about 60 to 80 percent of the total cost of production, which reduces the profits a farmer gets from livestock, poultry or fish enterprises.

“If we can manage to help the farmers formulate animal feeds then we can increase their profit margins by about 30 percent,” said Adero.

            The county has been giving out hybrid dairy cows, fish fingerlings and pigs to selected farmers to help them improve their production but apparently the feeds have been too expensive thereby reducing farmers’ profits over time.

           Mr John Chacha, a beneficiary of some of the dairy cows that the county has been giving out says that the commercial feeds have become quite expensive to purchase.

            “Buying hay and silage is quite expensive but we occasionally do purchase to supplement the cows nutrients,” stated Chacha during an interview with KNA.

Chacha says that if the county can implement Project Feed Formulation his income will double because he will save the cash that he incurs on purchasing the commercial feeds.

              Adero reaffirms that the feed formulation project is the only way to ensure that the county initiatives of supporting dairy farming and other supported enterprises are sustained in the near future.

The Kenya National Livestock Policy Development Session Paper of 2008 also puts emphasis that in order to cope with both short-term and long-term needs for animal feeds; the government must promote diversification of the feed base through the use of alternative sources of both energy and protein. The utilization of crop residues in animal feeds was also to be promoted to help Kenya farmers realize optimum profits and vision 2030.

            Adero further says that the feed formulation project will ensure that the local farmer does not over rely on commercial feeds that are imported from Tanzania and Uganda.

He stresses that the Fertilizer and Animal Foodstuff Act Cap 345 is meant to regulate the importation, manufacture and sale of agricultural fertilizers and animal foodstuffs.

The livestock officer  hopes that once the Feed Formulation Project is implemented, many residents will embrace this effort and venture in different farming enterprises to better their livelihoods and improve food production in the county.

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