Livestock Research for Rural Development 23 (6) 2011 Notes to Authors LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Enhancing output oriented livestock improvement strategies in drylands of Kenya

A J N Ndathi, M M Nyangito, N K R Musimba and B N Mitaru

Kenya Agricultural Research Institute Kiboko, P.O. Box 12-90138, Makindu, Kenya
ndathi4@yahoo.com

Abstract

Farmers in the drylands practice mixed crop and livestock production systems. Both production systems have mutual relationships and understanding of target outputs in each system is important. With increasing demand for livestock products, livestock production is expected to be the major driving enterprise during a predicted food revolution. Targeting the most valued livestock species and the premium products or services from that species will improve the farmers’ interest and adoption of recommended technologies. In this cross sectional survey carried out in Kibwezi District, Kenya, this research team aimed at identifying the most valued livestock species and the premium products or services targeted. Systematic sampling method using road transects was used to select farmers to be involved in the survey. The pair wise ranking method was used in importance ranking during the survey and a focused group discussion held to discuss the survey results.

 

The farmers’ importance ranking of the livestock species was topped by the goat followed by chicken, cattle and sheep. Draft power was ranked most important followed by beef, milk and lastly manure. To produce the top ranked product (draft power) the most valued livestock age/sex class is the entire bulls followed by the heifers, mature females, castrates and lastly the calves. Therefore, to improve livestock production in Kibwezi District, we recommend that farmers focus on improving the performance of entire bulls for draft power and mature females for milk production.

Keywords: Cattle, draft power, livestock products, milk, mixed production systems


Introduction

 

Farmers in drylands practice mixed crop and livestock production systems. In these systems, there are mutual relationships with each system benefiting from products or by-products of the other. Understanding of the target outputs of each system is important in developing and promoting their improvement strategies. Increasing climate variability (caused by climate change) and decreasing household land size holdings (caused by increasing human population and land subdivision) are major factors affecting production within the crop and livestock production systems drylands. Decreasing moisture availability due to increasing evapotranspiration rate, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 is changing the environments under which both plants and animals are being produced in drylands.

 

Livestock production is predicted to become a major driver in the next food revolution due to increasing demand for livestock products as urbanization and human economic wellbeing improves (Delgado et al 1999). There is need to direct more efforts towards the livestock production system to assist farmers to take maximum advantage of this predicted revolution. In the drylands, farmers are keeping each livestock species to produce differing products and services that they value differently. The major products and services from livestock are milk, beef, mutton, draft power, manure, hides, skins and eggs. There is need to understand the value attached to each product or service by the farmers. To improve adoption of livestock improvement technologies in the drylands, extension agents should target the most valued products from the livestock species kept. Targeting the most valued livestock species and the premium product or service given by a particular livestock species improves the farmers’ interest and adoption of recommended production technologies. However, due to predicted climate change effects, there is a need to focus more efforts on livestock species that are likely to be more adversely affected by this change. In the dry lands, woody plant species (shrubs) are expected to be favoured while the herbaceous species (grasses) will be disadvantaged by the increased temperature and level CO2. Therefore, grazers (cattle and sheep) will be more adversely affected than browsers (goats and camels) (Nyangito et al 2008).

 

Involving the farmer in the research process has been emphasized as an efficient way to improve technology adoption and adaptation (Martin and Sherington 1997; Babu and Hazell 1999; Defoer and Budelman 2000) and reducing the cost of extension. Therefore, a team of scientists was assembled to conduct a cross-sectional survey to identify the reasons why farmers keep livestock in the South Eastern drylands of Kenya. The aim of the survey was to understand the target outputs from the livestock production systems and their ranking with the aim of laying strategies for advocating the promotion of the top ranked outputs. This survey was conducted in Kibwezi District, Kenya.

 

Materials and Methods

 

Kibwezi District is one of the dryland districts in South Eastern Kenya. The district comprises Kibwezi and Mtito Andei Divisions on the southern tip of the former larger Makueni District. The district covers an area of approximately 3400 km2 (Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) 2000). The average annual rainfall is between 600 mm and 700 mm that comes in a bimodal regime. The more reliable short rains come in November to December while the less reliable long rains fall from March to May. The average temperature is 230C with a potential evapotranspiration rate of 2000 mm (Michieka and van der Pouw 1977). The altitude of the district varies from 600 m near the Athi River belt to the eastern to high grounds of 1100 m along the Chyulu hills to the western side of the district (Government of Kenya (GoK) 2002). The major Agro-Ecological Zones (AEZs) are LM5, LM4 and IL6 (Jaetzold and Schmidt 1983) while the average human population density is 85 persons per km2 (GoK 2002).

 

To get a representative sample of the District, a systematic sampling method using roads transects was used. A road transect involves selecting a motorable road that roughly cuts across the area to be sample. A sample is taken after a pre-determined distance in order to achieve a representative and sufficient sample. A road transect was placed in each of the three major AEZs mentioned above. The Land Rover was used to drive along each of the road transects and a trained interviewer was dropped after every one mile (1.609 km). The Land Rover’ odometer reading was in miles hence the use of the mile as a measure of distance.

 

A semi-structured questionnaire was administered to the nearest willing farming household on either side of the road. The questionnaire had both open and closed questions. Ranking of the importance of livestock species kept by the farmers was done using the pair wise ranking method as described by Defoer and Budelman (2000). A total of 120 farming households were interviewed. Data collected during the survey were analyzed using the frequency analysis procedures of descriptive statistics as described in Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) (Norman et al 1975) and rankings given weighted using the Likert scale method. Results from data analysis process were presented at a Focused Group Discussion (FGD) for consensus building and capturing information that may have been missed by the interview team.

 

Results

 

The major livestock species kept by farmers in Kibwezi District are cattle, goats, chicken, sheep and donkeys. Other livestock species kept are pigs, ducks and turkeys. The average animal holdings (unclear) per household in the District are 4.4 0.9 (n = 70), 10.5 2.0 (n = 110), 12.1 2.1 (n = 104) and 6.0 2.0 (n =28) for cattle, goats, chicken and sheep respectively. Table 1 shows that farmers ranked goats highest followed by chicken, cattle and sheep. Turkeys, pigs and ducks were kept by few farmers in the wetter LM4 and LM 5 zones.

 

Table 1. Livestock species ranking in Kibwezi District Kenya

Livestock species

Ranking frequencies

Weighted Score

Rank

1

2

3

4

5

Goats

56

48

6

0

0

490

1

Chicken

16

30

40

15

3

353

2

Cattle

42

21

7

0

0

315

3

Sheep

2

5

17

4

0

89

4

n = 117

 

The cattle are likely to be more adversely affected by climate change because they are grazers and have a large size that requires more feed. Therefore, the study focused on the cattle as the study livestock species because it will be more vulnerable under increased climate variability. The major products farmers from Kibwezi District get from cattle are draft power, milk, beef and manure. Farmers ranked provision of draft power the most important followed by beef, milk and manure (Table 2).

 

Table 2. Cattle outputs/ services ranking in Kibwezi District Kenya

Output/ Services

Ranking frequencies

Weighted Score

Rank

1

2

3

4

Draft power

12

6

5

1

77

1

Beef

10

3

1

2

53

2

Milk

6

3

5

1

44

3

Manure

2

7

2

2

35

4

n = 41                                           

 

To produce different top ranked output, farmers value the cattle age/sex classes differently. For draft power or beef, the entire males are the most valued followed by the heifers, the mature females, the castrates and lastly calves (Table 3).

 

Table 3. Cattle age/ sex class ranking in Kibwezi District Kenya

Age/ Sex Class

Ranking frequencies

Weighted Score

Rank

1

2

3

4

5

Entire males

23

7

1

1

0

148

1

Heifers

3

8

4

13

0

85

2

Mature cows

4

5

11

1

0

75

3

Castrate males

5

9

2

1

0

69

4

Calves

0

0

3

2

16

29

5

n = 34

 

Discussion

 

The five major livestock species (cattle, goats, chicken, sheep and donkeys) kept by farmers in Kibwezi District served differing purposes. The numbers of livestock kept by a farmer are determined by the resources available to the farmers and may determine the target outputs for the farmer. Decreasing moisture availability due to climate change may favour annual grasses, trees and shrubs rather than perennial grasses. This will most likely make the drylands increasingly unfavourable for cattle production. Cattle production will therefore need increased support in terms of improved feed production and conservation to be sustainable under increasing climate variability.

 

The three major outputs farmers in Kibwezi District get from cattle (draft power, beef and milk) are all important and farming households may target any of them as the major output. The high ranking of beef production in this study is in agreement with Kibet et al (2006) who reported that cattle in the drylands are kept for beef production. However, cattle numbers, 4.4 0.9 (n = 70), kept by each farming households in Kibwezi District may be too few to support a viable beef production enterprise. Culled draft power animals are slaughtered to produce beef however most of the meat consumed in the study area is mutton from goats. During the FGD, farmers felt that the ranking of products from cattle should be topped by beef followed by milk and draft power. Draft power although ranked highest is only needed during land preparation and weeding periods and that takes a short period of the year.

 

Therefore, beef and milk are the major outputs in cattle production systems in Kibwezi district. It is, however, apparent that draft power is still important in the agro-pastoral systems practiced in the district. Therefore, efforts should be directed towards breeding animals that will produce draft power and milk. Beef can be produced from culled animals not needed for draft power and milk production. Livestock feed improvement programmes should focus on improving draft power, milk and beef production. Therefore, a dual-purpose cattle for draft power and milk production should be the most preferred animals for farmers in Kibwezi district, Kenya.

 

Conclusion

 

Recommendations

 

It is recommended that more efforts be focused on promoting livestock breeding and feed production strategies that will improve production of powerful animals that can produce enough draft power and beef and still produce adequate milk quantities for an improved household food security and economic status.

 

Acknowledgement

 

The research team acknowledge funding and support from form European Union (EU), Kenya Arid and Semi Arid Lands (KASAL) Project through the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI). We are also grateful for the support given by the Department of Land Resource Management and Agricultural Technology (LARMAT) of the University of Nairobi (UoN), farmers, administrators and agricultural extension agents of Kibwezi district. KARI Kiboko gave us support that is highly appreciated.

 

References

 

Babu S and Hazell P 1999 Growth, Poverty alleviation, and the environment in the fragile lands of Sub-Saharan Africa. In Knox McCulloch A, Babu S and Hazell P (Eds) Strategies for poverty alleviation and sustainable resource management in the fragile lands of Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

CBS (Central Bureau of Statistics) 2002 Republic of Kenya, Ministry of Economic Planning and Development, Nairobi.

 

Defoer T and Budelman A (eds) 2000 Managing soil fertility. A resource guide for participatory learning and action research. Amsterdam: Royal Tropical Institute.

 

Delgado C, Rosegrant M, Steinfeld H, Ehui S and Courbois C 1999 Livestock to 2020: The next food revolution. Food, Agriculture and the Environment Discussion Paper 28. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). ISBN o-89629-632-6.

 

GoK (Government of Kenya) 2002 Makueni District Development Plan for the period 2002-2008. Government Printers, Nairobi. 

IPCC  2007 Summary for policymarkers. In  climate change 2007. The physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [ Solomon S, D Quin, M Manning, Z Chen, M Marquis, KB Averyt, M Tignor and HL Miller (eds)}. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York NY USA.

Jaetzold R and Schmidt H 1983 Farm Management Handbook of Kenya. Vol. II – Natural conditions and Farm management information. Vol. II/C, Eastern Kenya (eastern and coast province). Ministry of agriculture, Kenya.

 

Kibet P F K, Karimi S K, Gitunu A M M and Ogillo B P 2006 Priority setting report for the National Range Research Centre (NRRC), Kiboko. KARI Report.

 

Martin A and Sherington J 1997 Participatory research methods – implementation, effectiveness and institutional context. Agricultural systems 55, 195–216.

 

Michieka D O and Van der Pouw B J A 1977 Soils and vegetation of the Kiboko range research station. Kenya Soil Survey Project.  A semi-detailed report No. S-3, (+ map + Appendix), Nairobi, Kenya.

 

Norman H N, Hull C H and Bent D H 1995 Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, 2nd  edition New York: McGraw Hill.

Nyangito M M, Musimba N K R and Nyariki, D M 2008 Range use and trophic interaction by agropastoral herds in Southeastern Kenya. Journal of  Human Ecology 23(2): 115-123.



Received 29 September 2010; Accepted 15 December 2010; Published 19 June 2011

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