Sun. Apr 14th, 2024

The livestock sector is a significant contributor to Kenya’s GDP, employing over 50% of the agricultural labour force. The Resilient African Feed and Fodder Systems (RAFFS) Project aims to address challenges in Africa’s Feed and Fodder sector by strengthening stakeholders. Despite the potential for the livestock sector to contribute to economic growth, job creation, and food security, it remains largely untapped. In Kenya, the livestock market faces various challenges, leading to substantial economic losses. Market failures has led to inadequate storage and transportation infrastructure, limited market access for smallholder farmers, and inefficient distribution systems.

To overcome these challenges, investments are needed in storage facilities, logistics, and transportation networks. Empowering small-scale farmers through capacity building, market linkages, and access to finance can enhance their resilience and competitiveness. Collaboration among government agencies, private sector entities, and civil society organizations is crucial.

The lack of a centralized platform by sector players continues to hinder efforts to address these challenges. In view of this, Kenya has established a Multistakeholder Platform (MSP) to facilitate collaboration and address the sector’s obstacles. The Kenya Multi-Stakeholder Platform (MSP) was officially launched by Halima Nenkare, the Director of Livestock Production in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development. The MSP aims to foster coordination in the value chain and address challenges faced by the livestock sector. This platform will play a crucial role in enhancing collaboration.

During the launch, Ms. Nenkare announced the government’s plan to establish a Center of Excellence in Feed Technology Training, which will provide training opportunities for stakeholders. Several measures, including the finalization of the Livestock Bill, regulation of feeds, and implementation of the Feed Industry Development Strategy, are being undertaken to support these efforts. However, the success of these interventions relies heavily on collaboration among key stakeholders.

“The government intends to establish a modern Feed Resource Center equipped with advanced laboratories to ensure the safety and integrity of animal feeds. Strict quality control measures will be implemented to protect the health and well-being of livestock. The government is committed to providing necessary inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, agrochemicals, and machinery to facilitate efficient feed production. Moreover, efforts will be made to promote irrigation technology to reduce dependence on rainfall. Contractual agreements between millers and producers will guarantee a steady supply of inputs,” stated Ms. Nenkare.

To support the conservation and storage of forage, strategic feed storage facilities will be established at the ward level. These facilities will function as feed business centers, ensuring year-round availability of feed for livestock farmers. Given that feed costs account for a significant portion of livestock production expenses, it is crucial to address feed shortages and post-harvest losses. Recent assessments have revealed that Kenya experiences a 60% feed shortage and a 46% post-harvest loss, highlighting the urgent need for intervention.

The government is committed to providing seeds, fertilizers, agrochemicals, and machinery to enhance feed production efficiency. Additionally, they will promote irrigation technology and establish agreements between millers and producers to guarantee a consistent supply of high-quality feed. Focus will also be placed on conserving and storing forage while establishing strategic feed storage facilities at the ward level. These facilities will serve as distribution centers, ensuring that livestock farmers have access to quality feed throughout the year. 

Recognizing the importance of human capital in the feed industry’s advancement, the government will invest in capacity-building programs for stakeholders in the feed value chain. To facilitate informed decision-making and resource allocation, the government is committed to improving data availability and accessibility through quarterly National Feed Outlook Surveys. These surveys will provide insights into feed demand, supply, and consumption patterns.

The government is actively working on legislative and regulatory reforms to create a supportive environment for the feed industry. Initiatives like the Livestock Bill, feed regulation, and the Feed Industry Development Strategy are underway to establish a robust legal framework. However, the success of these initiatives depends on collaboration and partnership among stakeholders. The establishment of the Feed and Fodder Multi-Stakeholder Platform by the RAFFS project is a significant step towards fostering synergy, coordination, and knowledge exchange in the feed industry.

Traditionally, the focus in livestock financing has been on the downstream segments of the value chain, neglecting the importance of upstream actors like fodder growers. However, recent events, such as the devastating drought in Kenya, have highlighted the consequences of this oversight. The closure of 22 milk processors, resulting in bad loans for banks and a fodder shortage for farmers, clearly demonstrates the significant risk posed by the lack of balanced financing for the entire livestock industry.

George Macharia, General Manager of Food&Agriculture at Equity Bank, emphasizes the need to strengthen upstream financing and enhance the resilience of the entire livestock ecosystem. From the lenders’ perspective, several key considerations must be taken into account: having a clear business case that includes upstream activities like fodder production is crucial to attract funding. The value proposition must be well-defined and articulated.

Upstream financing should also incorporate strong and straightforward risk management strategies. This involves assessing and mitigating the inherent risks associated with fodder cultivation. Financial institutions often seek businesses with sufficient capitalization and proven revenue-generating capabilities.

“Investments in fodder production must demonstrate sustainable revenue streams to attract funding. Additionally, strong governance structures that ensure transparency and accountability inspire confidence among lenders. Upstream ventures should exhibit these governance practices. However, challenges have hindered the realization of upstream financing. Perceptions have ignored the investment value proposition of commercial fodder production, discouraging financial institutions from providing funding. The fragmented and unregulated fodder value chain, along with the absence of clear standards, complicates financing efforts,” noted Mr. Macharia.

To overcome these obstacles, actors within the livestock sector must advocate for the commercialization of fodder and engage in dialogue to raise awareness and demand for financing. Forums that enhance financial institutions’ understanding and acceptance of upstream financing are crucial. Education and training initiatives can bridge the knowledge gap.

To achieve sustainable livestock transformation, we need a multifaceted approach that includes optimizing feed production, genetic adaptation, climate change mitigation, and technological integration. Mr. John Maina from the State Department for Livestock Production emphasized the importance of information technology, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), in this transformation. IoT allows for real-time monitoring and management of farming processes, empowering farmers to make data-driven decisions, optimize resource utilization, and mitigate risks through connected farming within IoT ecosystems.

Policy interventions and public investments are crucial for facilitating this transition. Strategic initiatives that promote collaboration among stakeholders, including farmers, agribusinesses, and civil society organizations, are needed to foster innovation and address systemic challenges. Regional cooperation, such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), holds promise in enhancing intra-African trade and strengthening food security.

This week, the RAFFS Project team will be undertaking significant project activities. Apart from establishing the MSP, other activities include: implementing communication strategies, reforming policies, conducting inventories of feed and fodder resources, and formalizing the African Women in Animal Resources Farming and Agribusiness Network (AWARFA-N).

Since its launch in 2023, the project has made progress in understanding the impact of these crises on the feed and fodder sectors in six African Union Member States: Uganda, Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, and Zimbabwe. Through workshops, surveys, and stakeholder engagement, RAFFS is collecting data to support evidence-based solutions and policy interventions. 

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The African Union – Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR).

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