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Poor Insemination Methods Threaten Dairy Industry

08 September 2010

KENYA - Poor artificial insemination methods and farmers’ reluctance to breed male cows are holding back growth of dairy sector seen as a revenue stream for many poor Kenyans.

The inferior semen and inefficient distribution mechanisms to farmers has contributed to low quality of cow breeds resulting in reduced milk production and meat quantity, reports Business Daily.

Milk production rose from 2.8 billion litres in 2004 to 3.9 billion litres in 2009, but has dropped marginally in 2010. The output is likely to fall further due to poor quality of cows.

Analysts say increase in milk output will be good news for consumers as it will stabilise the prices that have shot up to an average of Sh25 a litre this year up from Sh8 in 2003—an increment that fed the brisk growth in the dairy sector over the past four years.

Kenya Dairy Board Chairman Machira Gichohi said semen quality contributes 25 per cent of milk volume whereas herd management contributes 75 per cent of milk production.

“If the semen used for breeding is of poor quality, it means the farmer will have to contend with reduced milk production even if he manages the cow in the best standards,” he said.

Demand for milk in East African region has grown over the years.

According to the industry regulator— the Kenya Dairy Board— the daily intake now stands at 1.5 million litres per day.

And with the coming into force of the common market, demand is set to grow further.

“Once we get our AI services in order, then insist on graded cows for the farmer and later provide incentives towards cheap, but standardised herd management, then we are going to record improved milk volumes that will compete with the local and regional markets demands,” Mr Gichohi said.

Livestock Development Minister Mohammed Abdi Kuti says the government has earmarked Sh300 million to improve artificial insemination services in the dairy sector.

The cash will finance modernisation of the Kenya Artificial Insemination Services (KAIS) department in order to enhance quality semen production and distribution to farmers.

The funds will also be used to buy microscopes, as most of them are old and inaccurate, having served the department for 35 years.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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