Hamjambo, mabibi na mabwana! Habari zenu?
Thank you for the warm welcome. It is a pleasure to join the Honorable Felix Koskei, Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture and the Chairman and CEO of the Kenya Meat Commission to launch the Kenya Semi-Arid Livestock Enhancement Support program – known as K-Sales – in support of Kenyan livestock producers. Congratulations to the K-Sales team, Land O’ Lakes, and the many Kenyan livestock farmers and business owners partnering with the program.
Today, we are formally launching the new $20 million, or 1.7 billion Kenya shilling, K-Sales program. The K-Sales program is an excellent example of the commitment of the U.S. government and the American people to Kenya’s agricultural development. This program is a three-year initiative supporting livestock producers in Kenya in six counties: Meru, Makueni, Thakara-Nithi, Kitui, Machakos, and Taita-Taveta. K-Sales will help beef, goat, and sheep producers integrate into the formal market and expand their commercial production. We expect roughly 300,000 households that depend on livestock, 60,000 livestock producers, and 3,200 agribusinesses to benefit from this program. We will implement this program in full cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, livestock cooperatives, and other partners. The project will improve the quantity and value of the livestock and the products from meat and hides – increasing the livestock producers’ productivity and also improving the quality of their final product.
How will K-Sales do this? First, K-Sales will create farmer field schools in the six participating counties. These farmer field schools will work with producers in the region to identify their most pressing needs and biggest problems – and then help solve them. Training in these schools will cover topics from on-farm financial management, to animal husbandry, to disease prevention and treatment – anything the farmers need to improve their ability to raise healthy livestock.
Second, the program will focus on access to clean water – critical for both the farmers themselves and their livestock. K-Sales will look to find community-based solutions, providing bore holes, water troughs, and pans through Water Use Associations that will be developed under the program. The program will also improve overall infrastructure, such as building animal pens, dip tanks for cleaning and maintaining animal health, and more.
Third, the program will work with lending institutions to help them provide agriculture and livestock-focused loan programs that are structured around the unique flow of capital and repayment needs in livestock production. The program will also seek to improve services for livestock producers, such as better-trained agro-vets and provision of better quality animal feed.
Finally, but importantly, the program will support training of over 2,500 livestock processors to improve butcheries and slaughter facilities. This will increase the quality and food safety of the final products and reduce waste and loss.
More than six million Kenyan pastoralists rely on livestock as a source of income, with the sector employing half of Kenya’s agricultural workforce. The livestock sector generates over 340 billion Kenyan shillings in annual sales, and represents 12 percent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product. Agro-pastoralists living in Kenya’s semi-arid regions struggle to survive in the face of unreliable access to water, cyclical droughts, livestock diseases, and limited inputs and services. K-Sales, a United States Department of Agriculture-funded project is just one of many initiatives aimed at helping Kenya address these challenges.
Our biggest initiative to improve agriculture production in Kenya, of which K-Sales is just one piece, is Feed the Future. Feed the Future was started by President Obama and is the U.S. government’s food security program dedicated to making serious progress to end global hunger.
With a focus on smallholder farmers, including women, Feed the Future supports partner countries in developing their agriculture and livestock sectors to increase incomes and reduce hunger, poverty, and under-nutrition. Here in Kenya alone, the United States is providing $250 million dollars – that’s over 21 billion Kenya shillings – to help strengthen agriculture and livestock production under Feed the Future. Through Feed the Future in Kenya, we are investing in agricultural research, extension services, communications technology, farm and veterinary input distributors, and other value-added enterprises. With Feed the Future, the U.S. government supports Kenya’s goal to strengthen market-based agricultural development. With K-Sales, we believe Kenyan livestock producers and related businesses will take another step on the path to prosperity, on the path to realizing the promise of Vision 2030. The enthusiastic reception by livestock producers and the businesses involved in this program is a brilliant example of the industrious spirit of the Kenyan people and their determination to succeed.
The United States has been Kenya’s steadfast partner for more than 50 years. Today, the U.S. Embassy works with Kenyans across the country to strengthen security, protect wildlife, improve healthcare, assist in education, build devolution, strengthen agriculture, and do so much more. Our partnership is based on equality and on building capacity to address shared challenges. It is a partnership for the 21st Century.
Once again, congratulations to the Ministry of Agriculture, the K-Sales program leaders, the livestock producers, businesses, and entrepreneurs on your work so far under this new program. Together, I know we will build a brighter future for both Kenyans and Americans.
Pamoja tusonge mbele! Asanteni Sana.