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Livestock diseases costing dairy farmers

The Kenyan dairy sector must step up efforts to prevent and eradicate livestock diseases which are estimated to cause milk loss of between 10 and 15 per cent in the country.

The losses which are partly due to high costs of vaccines hindering accessibility for farmers most of whom are small-scale with an average of three cows and constitute 70 per cent.

Speaking during the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Nairobi Livestock permanent secretary Andrew Tuimur revealed plans to roll out an oil-based vaccine this year for foot and mouth disease to help farmers vaccinate their animals only once a year and ease the financial burden of vaccination from them.

Tuimur said the government has come in to manage these costs through a vaccine production institute and devolving them to make them affordable to farmers.

“We are also looking for a way of having mass vaccination so as to completely eliminate some diseases such as foot and mouth,” he said, urging farmers to join co-operatives to get better prices for their milk. “Managing diseases will increase productivity and give access to more markets,” he added.

The high cost of production is locking out the Kenyan dairy sector from getting a bigger share in the regional market. Dairy sector contributes about 40 per cent to the Kenyan agriculture sector which controls 12 per cent of GDP.

Seventy per cent of the milk produced is consumed internally with only 30 per cent being processed. According to Jimmy Smith Director General International Livestock Research Institute cheaper milk imports have become a big disadvantage to the local farmers.

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