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Kenyan farmers mark global milk day amid calls for adoption of climate-smart animals

Climate change effects have led to erratic pasture production and increased disease and pest incidences.

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A farmer milking his cow. Photo/Courtesy

NAIROBI, June 1 (Xinhua) — Kenyan dairy farmers on Monday joined their counterparts from across the globe to mark the World Milk Day as experts rooted for the adoption of more hardy animals to enhance production amid challenges of climate change.

The day was founded some 20 years ago by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to distinguish the importance of milk as a food and to celebrate the dairy sector.

This year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, FAO discouraged the holding of in-person events, calling for social media celebrations.

After milking their animals on Monday, some of the dairy farmers in the east African nation toasted their produce in celebration of resilience and hope for more production amid rising challenges.

East African nation milk producers are currently facing a myriad of challenges among them shrinking land sizes, erratic weather conditions due to climate change and restrictions to curb the spread of new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that have shrunk the market.

Climate change effects have led to erratic pasture production and increased disease and pest incidences.

But still, the farmers have been resilient, producing up to 60 million liters of milk a month or 720 million liters annually, according to the Kenya Dairy Board.

Rachel Kinyua, a farmer from Meru County in central Kenya, is among those earning a living from milk that her six cows, out of the 15 she keeps, produce.

She gets 160 litres of milk every day and delivers to the Meru Union Dairy Cooperative Society, which buys at 35 shillings (about 0.35 U.S. dollars) per liter.

“I am happy with the yield but I want to increase the number of milkers to 10, though challenges like severe drought affect production,” Kinyua, who keeps Friesian animals, which are very high feeders, said.

But as dairy production goes on, experts are calling for the adoption of climate-smart animals that are not only hardy but also offer more on fewer feeds.

These include dairy goats, crossbreed cows, camels and sheep. For the goats, crossbreeds of Alpines and Toggenburgs — European breeds — have emerged as the most popular among Kenyan farmers seeking to produce more milk.

Similarly, crossbreeds of Sahiwals, Fleckvieh and local breed Zebu cattle have also been embraced by dairy farmers in the East African nation.

For sheep, farmers are embracing crossbreeds of traditional Red Maasai, Boer and Dorper, the last two which are resilient and imported from South Africa.

Camels, on the other hand, are being adopted by farmers in arid and semi-arid areas due to their hardy nature.

Initially, the animals were mainly kept in northern Kenya but more farmers in the south, Coast and eastern parts of the country are embracing camels as their milk products like yoghurt, fresh milk and meat become mainstreamed in the East African nation’s market.

There are at least three million camels in Kenya, mostly kept by pastoralists in the north, with the number growing steadily over recent years.

George Gitao, a professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Nairobi, noted camels are more important now than ever because they are tough, survive in drought and pollute less.

“Camels produce one of the most nutritious milk and the world’s best wools, good leather and extremely healthy meat,” he said.

Bernard Faye, a veterinarian and chair of the International Society of Camelid Research and Development, observed that the global camel market is projected to grow at more than 10 per cent for the next decade, thus, farmers must produce more of its milk and meat in the future to reap from the animals.

Besides the resilient livestock, experts are advising for the adoption of hardy but nutritious fodder that helps in the production of more milk from the animals.

These fodder include panicum, cobra and cayman grasses that are not only nutritious to animals but also regrow faster after cutting, thus, allowing farmers to have plenty of fodder even with little rains, according to Fredrick Muthomi, an agronomist.

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Science and Agriculture

County seeks collaboration with UK to boost horticulture exports

As the largest economy in East Africa and among the top 10 in the continent, Kenya was an important trading partner for the UK.

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The United Kingdom High Commissioner to Kenya, Jane Marriott receives a commemorative rhino carving from Governor Lee Kinyanjui during a courtesy call at the County headquarters on May 18, 2021.

The County Government of Nakuru plans to strengthen its collaboration with the UK to guarantee continued market access for horticultural products from Kenya.

Governor Lee Kinyanjui noted that Nakuru was the leading producer of herbs, spices, cut flowers and vegetables.

The governor stated that despite COVID-19 disruptions, the UK market accounts for 43 per cent of total exports of vegetables from Kenya as well as at least 9 per cent of cut flowers.

He was speaking at the County Headquarters after holding talks with United Kingdom High Commissioner to Kenya, Ms Jane Marriott.

The Governor added that, as the largest economy in East Africa and among the top 10 in the continent, Kenya was an important trading partner for the UK.

He also noted that increased access to the UK export market by hundreds of smallholder farmers who have ventured into avocado farming would improve livelihoods and increase incomes for thousands of rural households.

Mr Kinyanjui assured that his administration had dispatched agriculture extension officers to train youthful horticultural farmers on the mandatory standards their produce is expected to meet in the European Union (EU) and other export markets.

Ms Marriott called on Kenya to ride on the deal with the UK to grow its exports, which are largely agricultural produce.

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Science and Agriculture

The politics of the International Space Station: the USA vs China

Call them, the superpower rivalries. 

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An artist’s impression of the completed Chinese Space Station Xia Yuan/Getty Images

In 2007, China expressed interest to participate in the International Space Station’s missions. 16 nations that are members of the ISS agreed to have China included but the USA declined. The USA expressed concerns that China would transfer technology that could be used for military purposes.

The USA has similar concerns over Russia’s participation but would later agree to have Russia on board after the USA shuttles were grounded after the Columbia accident in 2003 and retirement of the shuttles in 2011. Interestingly, the USA, through a private company SpaceX, in what appears to be a move to delink from Russia on May 31, 2020, sent humans to the ISS from the USA soil.

As determined as China is, it has over years planned to set up its own International Space Station and three days ago (April 28) IT launched a core space station module. It plans to have at least 10 more similar launches, carrying all the additional equipment into orbit, before the completion of the station next year.

China and Russia are collaborating to see this happen. Remember Russia feels lonely after the USA abandoned Russia after having its crewed launch capabilities through SpaceX. China is also banking on Russia on ISS expertise while Russia is depending on China for funds. Interestingly, both countries’ space agencies say they have also signed agreements to develop research facilities (International Scientific Lunar Station) on the surface of the moon, in orbit or both. The USA is working tirelessly to achieve these fete.

This partnership and the rapid growth of China’s space capabilities have caused concern about military ambitions. Already, the USA intelligence community in a report has listed China’s space program as a top security concern for the United States.

Call them, the superpower rivalries.

 

Sebastian Rice (17 October 2007). “China wants to help with Space Station”. iTWire. Retrieved 02 May 2021

Spotts, Pete (2010-10-16). “NASA’s Bolden walks tight rope on China trip”The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 02 May 2021

“South Korea, India to begin ISS partnership talks in 2010”Flight International. 19 June 2010. Retrieved 02 May 2021

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Science and Agriculture

Amalo farmers receive 3,900 chicks under County’s empowerment program

This year the County Government of Nakuru has targets to distribute over 49,000-month-old chicks. Last year, the County distributed 30,000 chicks.

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The County Government of Nakuru has distributed 3,900-month-old chicks to various farmers groups in Amalo Ward, Kuresoi South sub-County.

The 40 farmer groups are the first in the region to receive the birds through the Local Chicken Stimulus Project that seeks to empower farmers economically.

So far, the County Government of Nakuru, under the leadership of Governor Lee Kinyanjui has distributed 35,000-month-old chicks across the County.

Acting County Director of Livestock Production, Ms Virginiah Ngunjiri advised farmers on proper practices, among them strict vaccination schedule to keep diseases at bay.

According to the Directorate of Livestock Production, Kuresoi South comes third in indigenous bird population of over 177, 000 after Njoro and Gilgil Sub Counties.

At the same time, more than 4,400 chicks were distributed to 70 farmer groups in the Njoro sub-county in an exercise led by Livestock Officer, Ms Eunice Nginya.

Members of County Assembly Mr Wesley Korir of Amalo Ward and Zachariah Kahero of Njoro commended the County for initiating the stimulus program to empower farmers.

“Besides selling the birds, the farmers will benefit from the eggs and meat thus improving nutrition status in the region. The droppings too can be used as manure to grow crops,” stated Wesley.

This year the County Government of Nakuru has targets to distribute over 49,000-month-old chicks. Last year, the County distributed 30,000 chicks.

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