Kirinyaga County's agriculture department plans to inseminate 50,000 cows in a bid to improve dairy and livestock production.
In a deal that was signed between the county government and the Kenya Animals Genetic Research Centre (KAGRC), the farmers will receive quality artificial insemination (AI) services that will upgrade their cattle breeds.
In an event held at Ndomba Animal Health Training Institute in Mwea Constituency, Governor Anne Waiguru said that the agreement will facilitate the support of 60 dairy farmers' groups through provision of quality AI services.
She emphasised that the main objective of the project is to improve the breeds of dairy cattle in the county with an ultimate goal of increasing milk production.
Through this project, the animals will be inseminated within a span of six months.
The county boss said while KAGRC will be providing semen and liquid nitrogen, the county government will provide 80 artificial insemination coolers to four dairy cooperative societies.
Increase milk production
"The aim is to increase milk production from the current five litres per cow per day to around 12 litres per cow per day," the governor said.
She added that besides increased milk production, improved cattle breeds have a stronger immune system and, therefore, are less susceptible to diseases.
Kirinyaga's annual milk production is 85 million litres, with an average income of Sh3 billion per year. The governor noted that the potential to realise optimal milk production lies in improving the local dairy cattle breeds.
"Through our Wezesha Kirinyaga economic empowerment programme, my administration is committed to supporting the dairy farmers to increase milk production so that their living standards can be uplifted" she said.
Further, Ms Waiguru said that her administration is supporting the dairy cooperatives with two 10,000-litre capacity haulers to ease the transportation of milk.
Additionally, Rung'eto and Kirima Dairy Cooperative societies will each receive yoghurt making equipment while all the four cooperatives will get power generators.
She said that the yoghurt making equipment has a capacity of processing 500 litres daily.
At the same time, the county also launched a fish farming project that will give direct support to women and youth who will be involved at various stages of its value chain which include cooking, selling and transportation. Others will be employed at fish eateries which have now become very popular in the county.
Ms Waiguru said the county is working towards increasing annual fish production from the current 29.4 tons, valued at Sh12.8 million to 62 tons, which will fetch the farmers around Sh30 million per year.
Since the farmers will produce fish for subsistence and commercial purposes, the project will also largely contribute towards the county's nutritional status as fish is a source of protein. It will also support the food security pillar of the Big Four Agenda.