Dorper sheep have become a sensation to many Kenyan farmers in semi-arid areas due to their drought-tolerant ability.
A family in Ngobit ward Laikipia County is reaping big by rearing this crossbreed of black-headed Persian sheep and Dorset Horn ram.
Margaret Wanjiru who is a member of Sukurui Self Help Group (SHG) and beneficiary of Kenya Climate-Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP) while speaking to KNA at her home said sheep rearing has improved her family’s livelihood through financial freedom.
Sukurui Self Help Group (SHG) which has 30 members is engaged in sheep rearing and also is among 21 other common interests groups, supported by Kenya Climate-Smart Agriculture Project, is also involved in dairy, indigenous chicken, sorghum and beans farming.
“In a good month, I can sell up to seven sheep. Mostly, it depends on their maturity rate. It’s a good venture and we are happy because we get a lot of money through them. People come from as far as Nairobi and Nakuru to buy them, not forgetting area residents who are my regular customers,” she posed.
Wanjiru who currently has 70 sheep started the venture three years after importing two Dorper sheep from South Africa in a bid to crossbreed with local sheep. She said her choice of Dorper was motivated by their ability to survive in dry areas.
“This is a very dry place. With Dorper sheep, they have hair shedding ability during dry weather seasons, unlike local breeds. This makes them drought-resistant,” she noted.
Wanjiru revealed one mature Dorper sheep fetches up to Sh 40,000 in the market due to their weight and delicious meat flavor.
She urged residents to venture into sheep farming due to their low management costs. “It is easy to do sheep rearing. Anyone willing to venture here should ensure they vaccinate their livestock and involve trained veterinarians from time to time to check and ensure the flock is in good health,” she said.
Wanjiru lauds the Kenya Climate-Smart Agriculture Project which she said trained them on smart agriculture practices.
“We will forever be indebted to KCSAP. They have trained us on cross-breeding with the best quality animals which the majority of farmers were not aware of. There is increased productivity,” Wanjiru said.
Away from sheep rearing, Wanjiru does dairy farming, she said every day she milks 70 liters and sells to Laikipia dairy cooperative, locals and consumes whatever is left with her family.
She is optimistic that in five years’ time she will venture into Dorper sheep cross-breeding business at her farm in Ngobit ward.
County Climate Smart Agriculture Project Coordinator, Muriithi Kivoi addressing media at his Nanyuki town office said their focus is to increase productivity by use of smart agriculture technologies.
“Our main objective is to ensure farmers get maximum productivity results, build resilience to small holders’ farmers and pastoralists at the same time reducing greenhouse gases,” he revealed.
Kivoi said they organize groups with common interest projects where they train them before supporting them with the requested project, for instance, sheep rearing.
“We have micro-projects where communities have written proposals to request for support to undertake specific projects so that they can unlock their agricultural productivity. They are in a group of twenty to thirty people and in the same area. We train them and they perform agriculture activities in their own farms,” Kivoi said.
He urged farmers to use smart agriculture technology during farming to boost their productivity.
“We encourage the use of technologies that increase agricultural productivity. Farmers should consider small machinery, the use of certified seeds, and breeding systems for instance artificial insemination. With the use of these methods, conservation agriculture comes in handy in arid and semi-arid areas,” he emphasized.
Through micro-projects, Kenya Climate-Smart Agriculture Project is supporting 260 community development projects in Tigithi, Ngobit, Segera, Salama, Rumuruti, and Olmoran ward since 2018.
Kivoi further revealed, the government had injected Sh 110,800,000 million to support micro projects of daily, sheep, indigenous chicken, Sorghum, and beans value chains since their inception in 2018.
Kenya Climate-Smart Agriculture Project is a government project jointly supported by the World Bank aiming to enhance climate-smart agriculture practices among small-scale farmers, agro-pastoralists, and pastoralists communities in arid and semi-arid areas.