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    By George Munene

    Bedan Bakuni Ole Ngatet keeps some 180 boer goats at his farm in Kiserian. Despite most being about 75% pure boers (he has crossed them with galla goats) he says the appetite for the breed in Kenya is insatiable--he has standing orders even for unborn kids.

    Bedan started rearing boers 2 years ago, when he imported a single buck from South Africa. He imported another 2 pedigree bucks in 2019. Despite it costing him a pretty penny, Sh150,000 to Sh200,000 for a single goat, he is more than happy with his investment. The breed is a fast maturer, one 1½ year old buck he bought weighed a whopping 103 kilograms. The carcass weights of some of his 1½ year old crosses weigh 40kg. Amongst indigenous breeds, you will struggle to find even a fully mature 6 year old goat that weighs that much.

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    The major difference he has observed to indigenous breeds is that the boer is a more voracious feeder. He prefers to cross his boers with the galla goat due to the benefits of hybrid vigour—you get the best elements of both goats; Indigenous breeds are hardy and familiar to their locality whilst boers gain much more weigh much faster. Their feeding regimen is similar to that of local goats kept for meat, constituting mostly free grazed pasture and salts. For fast as possible growth, he advises farmers to offer supplements such as pellets and maize germ. He also has his goats paddocked to prevent them from wandering too far, this ensures that feed isn’t wasted, but converted into muscle and meat. The major housing requirements is that the shed be raised and well shaded.

    The boer goat has a white body with red/brown head, it might also have some brown spots below its knee; long droopy ears, a stretched cylindrical head with a roman nose. Boer goats are graded in three classes:

    1st class: The stud-This is a purebred boer that has the perfect physical traits and is kept for breeding. Even having any colour pigments above the knee is a disqualification factor to being considered stud worthy.

    2nd class: The flock-These have fallen just short of being considered studs. They can be used for breeding or meat purposes.

    3rd class: Here males are castrated and fattened, purely meant for meat.   

    Related News:Farmers prefer galla breed to traditional goats for quick cash

    Depending on the grade he has for his own goats, he sells breeding boers for Sh40,000 to Sh60,000

    His advice to farmers looking to import boer goats is that they band together and import in at least 30 boers so as to reduce the costs. There have also been cases of unscrupulous middlemen taking advantage of the demand for the goats in the country to swindle would be Kenyan boer farmers by promising them goats that have never materialised, so move with care in setting up purchasing and in parting with payments.

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    By George Munene

    The height of the Covid-19 pandemic was a disruptive period for many farmers and people in the agricultural value chain, but especially so for farmers who rear poultry for eggs and those who buy the eggs from them for wholesale.

    Sammy Kigen, owner of ‎Mkulima Mdogo Eggs wholesalers buys about 2,000 eggs a week from farmers across the country. Between, March and June he says he sold a tray of eggs for as low as Sh220. In areas such as Muranga, farmers grew so desperate to dispose of mounting stocks that the price of a tray fell to as low as Sh200. Normally farm-gate prices ranged from Sh260 to Sh280.

    As the pandemic bit, forcing the unexpected closure of schools and eateries, many farmers were left holding onto eggs they couldn’t sell in bulk as they would have before. These birds still needed feeding and many of the farmers that he was buying eggs from in Ruiru and Githurai were forced to dispose of their chicken. That is because keeping poultry for eggs is about high volumes and marginal profits; so most farmers couldn’t continue losing money in the hope of finding a market or fetching better prices some time down the road. Those who hadn’t stocked up on feeds were also unsure of how they would source for feedstuff for their birds given that even less was known then of the possible repercussions of the novel coronavirus.

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    However, Kigen has a wide client base consisting of supermarkets, retailers, hoteliers and individuals and he credits this for keeping his business afloat. There was also a temporary surge in buying by individuals when the country announced its first Covid-19 case and especially on the April 23rd announcement of the commencement of a 21-day partial lockdown. As with the rush to stock up on other foodstuff, households that normally bought a tray every so often were ordering 10-20 trays at a go from him.

    A couple of months on, he says, there are now days when eggs are unavailable at the busy Githurai Market that straddles Nairobi and Kiambu Counties. He now buys a tray from farmers for Sh290-300 and sells it at Sh320-330. He attributes this spike in price and shortages to the lacuna that’s been left in the market after many farmers killed off their birds. Egg production also dips over the especially cold June and July months. Cases of diseases in birds also rise with falling temperatures; many farmers if they can help it, avoid rearing chicken over this period.

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    By George Munene

    On August 7th, at Kibiko farm, Ngong, the KCB and MasterCard Foundations launched 100 hydroponic greenhouses targeted at youth engaged in agribusiness. The event was attended by Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya and KCB Chief Executive Office and Managing Director Joshua Oigara who promised that although the program is starting out with just greenhouses they are committed to building 560 agro-processing and value addition zones across the country’s 47 counties.

    “This will be the single largest job creation program within agriculture for the youth in our country,” said Mr. Joshua Oigara. The program, he added, was meant to train youth on modern agriculture by equipping them with new sciences, skills and technologies. The program has committed to constructing 28,000 greenhouses for the youth across the country in the coming five years.

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    The Cabinet Secretary lauded the program for employing over 1000 youth for 9 months to construct the greenhouse farm in Ngong. Further construction is scheduled to kick off in sites in Ongata Rongai, Juja and Limuru. He also promised that the government will work with the foundation and learn from its efforts in order to better deal with the challenges that face the youth in agriculture.

    Agriculture is just one plank of KCB’s 2jiajiri Young Africa Works programme that aims to create 1.5 million jobs over five years for Kenyan youth. The other sectors it invests in are construction and manufacturing, as well as film production.

    Joshua Oigara said, “The greenhouses, which have been manufactured and constructed by our graduates, will be owned by graduates from 2jiajiri who have studied hydroponic farming. They will be linked to local and international markets. The beneficiaries will also get the bank’s support to structure and run professional businesses as well as obtain backing from the Sh20bn kitty we have set aside for the youth under this programme.”

    Related News:Ruiru youth who dropped medicine course for tomatoes has no regrets

    To qualify for the Young Africa Works in Kenya scholarship in hydroponic farming you will need to be aged 18-35 and commit to undertake a 3 month hydroponic training program at Miramar International College (MIC) in Kikuyu. The business should be registered to be owned by two people and both will need to come up with Sh88, 200, which is 10% of the total cost of setting up an 8M x 24M hydroponic greenhouse.

    The Application forms can be accessed here; https://kcbgroup.com/foundation/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/2020-Young-Africa-Works-Scholarship-Hydroponics-Farming-Technology-Form.pdf

    The contacts for Miramar International College (MIC), Kikuyu: +254 741 361 749 / +254 705 826 144

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