KENYA – The National Government of Kenya has initiated a comprehensive training program aimed at enhancing milk production among livestock farmers in Kiambu County.

The training involves field sessions, demonstration farm tours, and telephone conversations to provide dairy farmers with valuable insights into modern farming practices, particularly focusing on feeding techniques and minimizing production costs.

Virginia Karanja, the Kiambu Sub-county Livestock Production Officer, emphasized the adoption of new technologies, advising farmers to cultivate high-value fodder crops such as Bracharia and desmodium.

These crops, when combined with Napier grass, contribute to increased protein value in the feed, resulting in higher milk production.

Kiambu County, known for its significant contribution to Kenya’s milk production, produces approximately 430 million liters annually.

A large percentage of Kiambu residents, around 80%, engage in dairy farming, with many households maintaining two to three cows.

The most common dairy cattle breeds in the region are Friesian and Ayrshire, chosen for their prolific milk production and valuable manure.

Esther Njeri, a dairy farmer, expressed the positive impact of dairy farming on her livelihood, mentioning the profitability of selling both milk and calves.

However, she highlighted the need for more extension officers to address challenges faced by farmers, emphasizing the importance of timely assistance.

The training initiative is part of the Agriculture Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP), a National Government program focused on enhancing capacity and introducing new technologies in dairy, banana, and chicken farming.

The ASDSP aims to fill gaps identified through research, enabling farmers to achieve better profits from their cattle.

According to George Ngugi, a dairy farmer, one of the challenges raised by farmers is the high cost of Artificial Insemination (AI) services and commercial feeds.

Ngugi emphasized the need for government intervention to reduce these costs, making dairy farming more economically viable for farmers.

Dr. Simon Kuria, the Director of Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organization (KALRO)’s Arid and Rangeland Research Institute (ARRI) highlighted the importance of feed in cattle health and productivity.

Additionally, he noted that the training program encompasses the entire production cycle of fodder crops, offering farmers guidance from preparation and sowing to harvesting, conservation, and feeding.

The introduction of high-yield and fast-growing grass varieties is seen as a viable solution to provide abundant fodder for livestock, improving productivity and revenue for farmers.

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