Focusing on the Roles of Genetics and Fodder in Sustainable Dairy Farming in Kenya

Irish dairy experts will start work this month with their Kenyan counterparts on key issues of importance to the dairy sector in Kenya. Granted Euros 1m in funding by the Irish Government via its Embassy in Kenya, an Irish-Kenyan consortium will begin a unique proof-of-concept project focusing on the roles of genetics and fodder in sustainable dairy farming.

Irish dairy experts will start work this month with their Kenyan counterparts on key issues of importance to the dairy sector in Kenya. Granted Euros 1m in funding by the Irish Government via its Embassy in Kenya, an Irish-Kenyan consortium will begin a unique proof-of-concept project focusing on the roles of genetics and fodder in sustainable dairy farming.

The consortium is led by Irish Government agency Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority, in partnership with its Kenyan counterpart, the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO). Project support will be provided by Self Help Africa, Sustainable Food Systems Ireland (SFSI) and Greenfield International. The new project was announced during Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys’ trade mission to Kenya featuring a range of Irish agri-tech companies and national organisations.

Centred at KALRO’s Dairy Research Institute in Naivasha, the project will focus on dairy production at farm level. Dairy systems and breeding specialists will gather evidence on the performance of exotic and cross-bred dairy cows under different farm and feeding systems. The Irish team will also support KALRO in building its capacity around national breeding objectives, with a target of developing a breeding index specifically for Kenya. A particular focus of the project will be on developing an innovation support function within KALRO Naivasha modelled on the Irish system of innovation support on farms. This initiative will be facilitated by developing strong links with producer groups, county extension agents and dairy co-operatives.

The project is part of the Ireland-Kenya Agri-food Strategy (2017-2021), a key pillar of the Embassy’s cooperation development programme in Kenya, funded via Irish Aid. The Strategy identified the dairy sector as a key value chain for potential investment.

The Director General of KALRO, Dr Eliud Kerger said: The project has come at opportune time given that most of the small holder dairy systems in Kenya are forage dependent and the shared experiences with Irish partners will guarantee development of sustainable dairy breeding and feeding systems that are responsive to the local farmers’ needs. In addition, the DG lauded the planned use of a state-of-the-art dairy innovation hub as key platform in augmenting the various stakeholders in the dairy value chain to better equip them with skills and knowledge in areas of dairy breeding and feeding management.

Commenting on the project in Nairobi, Teagasc’s Head of Research, Professor Frank O’Mara said: Teagasc is pleased to be working with our Kenyan partner, KALRO, and Irish partners in the delivery of this important project. We signed an MoU with KALRO in 2015 and this is the first large project we will collaborate. From our discussions with Kenyan stakeholders, there is general agreement that new initiatives are needed in Kenya to transform the dairy sector at producer level so as to increase milk production in a profitable and sustainable way. Our aim is to work to replicate the principles that underlie the successful Irish dairy industry in Kenya. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Irish Embassy for this work.

Source: Agriculture and Food Development Authority