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State mulls incentives to boost animal feed sector

Local animal feeds industry is set for major realignment as government moves to relax investment regulations to enable entry of new investors interested in fodder production.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett said the government will from next year start providing incentives to potential investors to engage in commercial production of animal feed.

Acquisition of feed by livestock farmers is part of the main cost of production in the industry. “Key on our agenda is to provide incentives such as tax rebate, leasing of public land to new investors interested in starting manufacturing of fodders. In this way we will ensure increase in fodder production in order to boost livestock productivity,” he said.

The incentives, he said, will be preceded by change of existing policies currently governing the livestock sector. “Acquisition of feeds by livestock farmers forms the main cost of production in the industry. Starting January next year the government will start giving incentives to investors through duty waivers to feed manufacturing,” Bett disclosed.

He added: “We want to look at it from the policy level and come up with interventions such as reducing taxes to raw materials on feed manufacturing and also seek more investments in feed manufacture.”

Providing incentives, Bett explained will be a game changer as far as livestock production is concerned and this will also create employment. The disclosure by the CS comes at a time when experts, farmers and stakeholders in the livestock industry are raising concerns over sale of poor quality feeds which they claim have been hindering growth of, particularly, dairy cattle and chickens.

Some traders have been selling feeds mixed with sawdust and other low quality materials which affect productivity of the animals. A report launched three months ago by Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) and Kenya Markets Trust (KMT) indicated that majority of local livestock farmers are feeding their animals on substandard commercial feeds thus compromising on productivity.

The report noted that more than 90 per cent of commercial feeds on sale in the local market have not been tested by the standards body and other regulatory authorities. KMT chief executive officer Kamau Kuria said although the animal feed industry has shown a steady growth, farmers continue producing below optimum due to among others, poor herd management.

Also contributing to low production are feeding livestock on poor-quality forages, crop residues and natural pastures that are of low nutritive value and do not meet nutrient demand.

Recently during a two-day national fodder conference in Nakuru, Bett said the country suffers from low production of commercial animal feeds, owing to lack of raw materials such as cotton seed cake and low production of maize.

Of the total maize produced in the country, less than 10 per cent is allocated to production of animal feeds. In an earlier interview, Livestock Principal Secretary Andrew Tuimur confirmed that the cost of producing dairy and poultry in the country remains high due to expensive feeds.

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