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Kenya establishes livestock development platform

The MSP aims to foster coordination in the value chain and address challenges faced by the livestock sector. (Image source: AU-IBAR)

Kenya has recently inaugurated a Multi-Stakeholder Platform (MSP) as part of its governmental initiative to develop a center of excellence in feed technology training 

This move comes in response to the pivotal role played by the livestock sector in Kenya's economy, where it employs over 50% of the agricultural labour force. The Resilient African Feed and Fodder Systems (RAFFS) project has been launched with the aim of addressing challenges within Africa's Feed and Fodder sector, particularly by bolstering stakeholder capabilities. Despite the potential of the livestock sector to significantly contribute to economic growth, job creation, and food security, it remains largely underutilised. In Kenya, the livestock market grapples with numerous challenges, resulting in substantial economic setbacks. Market failures have led to inadequate storage and transportation infrastructure, limited market access for smallholder farmers, and inefficient distribution systems.

To overcome these hurdles, there is a pressing need for investments 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 organisations is paramount.

The absence of a centralised platform for sector players has impeded efforts to tackle these challenges effectively. In light of this, Kenya has established a Multistakeholder Platform (MSP) to facilitate collaboration and address obstacles within the livestock sector. The Kenya Multi-Stakeholder Platform (MSP), officially launched by Halima Nenkare, the director of Livestock Production in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, aims to promote coordination in the value chain and address challenges faced by the livestock sector. This platform is poised to play a crucial role in enhancing collaboration among stakeholders.

During the launch event, 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 finalisation 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 hinges 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 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, underscoring the urgent need for intervention.

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, livestock financing has primarily focused on 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 underscored the consequences of this oversight. The closure of 22 milk processors, resulting in bad loans for banks and a fodder shortage for farmers, vividly illustrates 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, stresses the need to strengthen upstream financing and enhance the resilience of the entire livestock ecosystem.

"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 realisation 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,” added Macharia. 

To achieve sustainable livestock transformation, a multifaceted approach is required, encompassing feed production optimisation, genetic adaptation, climate change mitigation, and technological integration. Policy interventions and public investments are essential for facilitating this transition. Strategic initiatives that promote collaboration among stakeholders 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 undertake significant project activities. Apart from establishing the MSP, other activities include implementing communication strategies, reforming policies, conducting inventories of feed and fodder resources, and formalising 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 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.