Dairy goat breeds at the Dairy Research Institute in Naivasha which has attracted interest across Africa with farmers from Namibia and Djibouti buying the superior dairy breeds
The diminishing land sizes has created the need for farmers to look for domestic animals that they can keep in small units, while still maintaining productivity.
This has seen an increased demand for dairy goats that can provide farmers with milk for consumption while they sell the surplus.
Evans Ilatsia, the director, Dairy Research Institute-KALRO Naivasha, said the dairy goat breeding program in Kalro has gained popularity, and private farmers from as far as Somali and Namibia have been buying the goats from the institute.
The dairy goat improvement program is a more recent research and development program that was initiated because of the smallholder system becoming smaller.
“Feed resource is becoming a challenge so you need smaller animals that can fit into smallholder system and utilize limited feed resource to be able to meet the needs of the households,” he said.
Ilatsia said the dairy goat program focuses mainly on dairy breeds such as Toggenburg, Saanen, German Alpine, and some crosses of the same.
The program is funded by the World Bank through the Kenya Climate-Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP) and was started in October 2020.
It will run up to September 2022.
The program seeks to improve dairy goat productivity and resilience in smallholder farming systems through breeding, multiplication, husbandry technologies, and dissemination of superior breeds.
KALRO is targeting to get dairy goat breeds that can produce at least two litres of milk on average, unlike the indigenous breeds that produce about 400mls.
“This is just enough for the kid (young one of a goat), but with a goat producing two liters . The kid can take half a litre and the farmer left with one and half litres for consumption or sale,”said Ilatsia.
A litre of goat milk is going for Sh80 while that of a cow costs between Sh35 and Sh40.
“We are going into serious selection program focusing on milk and goat rate, adaptability and survival. These are key elements in building resilience of farmers in terms of climate-smart,” he said.
The director confirmed that demand has picked and is rising especially amongst individual farmers and private farms.
He said they have created a strong partnership between what they are doing at the dairy research institute and what the private dairy goat farmers are doing, especially in Central and Western Kenya.
“The dairy goat unit we have also acts as a farmer capacity building as well, where farmers come to learn how to manage their animals in terms of structures and husbandry. This is a relatively young program but with huge potential,” said Ilatsia.
He said last year, they got orders of almost 600,000 dairy goats but they could not meet that demand.
They had to refer buyers to farmers that they have been working within Nyeri, Meru and Kakamega.
He said there is huge demand and the program has attracted regional interest.
This is from countries like Somali, Djibouti, Eritrea, Uganda and DRC.