KENYA – The President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, has re-opened the refurbished meat processing plant of the state-owned Kenya Meat Commission, located in Athi River.
The reopening comes months after the President fully transferred the management of the commission from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries to the Ministry of Defence.
The transfer mandated the KDF to redesign the infrastructure of the commission with a view of making it more viable to meet food challenges in the county.
To this end, the military pumped in funds to revive the ageing and under-managed plant which was operating below capacity slaughtering 200 cattle per week.
The meat processor, now boasts of a daily slaughter capacity of 1,250 large animals and 2,000 small stock.
Highlighting the undertakings of the new management since the transfer, the Cabinet Secretary for Defence Amb. Dr. Monica Juma noted that the ministry has morphed up all the commission’s assets for the purpose of accountability and that the commission has embarked on development of a robust business plan for its prosperity.
“The business plan will drive the facility back into profitability and sustainable enterprise in line with the President’s guidance for turnaround strategy of the commission,” she said.
President Kenyatta, while presiding over the re-opening of the refurbished facility, applauded the KDF for taking an active role in the realization of the turn-around of the commission to what it is.
“We have done it before when Kenyan meat and meat products were sold worldwide and I believe once again meat products should join the growing list of food items that we export to the rest of the world.”President of Kenya – Uhuru Kenyatta
The President acknowledged the importance of the transformation noting that millions of Kenyans rely on livestock as their only mainstay.
“The sector is the source of livelihood for millions of Kenyans and the market forces have not lived to our expectations especially in times of drought and therefore, it was necessary to get the government involved as a driver together with the existing private sector players,” he said.
He further expressed optimism that KDF will be able to pay farmers and other suppliers in time, saying that has been one of KMC’s greatest challenge.
“One of the greatest challenges that we had with this facility was taking in livestock but not paying the farmers for the same. Indeed, some farmers had waited for four years before they were paid.
“I am keenly looking forward to you (KDF) maintaining your pledge that all farmers will be paid within 72hours of the delivery of their livestock to your facility,” he said.
The sector’s business reorganization plan kicked off in earnest starting with offsetting all pending payments owed by the commission, with so far clearing Ksh250 million (US$2.2m) worth of debts and a further Ksh150 million (US$1.37m) has been allocated to offset the balance of other general suppliers in this financial year.
As a sign of renewed confidence to the meat processor, various agencies are sourcing their meat requirements from KMC such as Kenya Prisons, Kenya Police Service Training Colleges, National Youth Service and Kenya Wildlife Service.
The Head of State further challenged KMC’s new managers to leverage on regional and continental trade arrangements such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to put their products into the international market by obtaining appropriate export certifications.
“Even as we set our eyes on Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Middle East for exports, a significant portion of our growth will be from emerging markets, many of which are right here in Africa, where the population is growing, and more consumers now enjoy improved purchasing power,” the President said.
“We have done it before when Kenyan meat and meat products were sold worldwide and I believe once again meat products should join the growing list of food items that we export to the rest of the world,” he said.
Besides the meat value chain, the leather sub-sector has been identified as one of the greatest beneficiaries from the revamped KMC as the Government has a comprehensive plan to enhance the uptake of hides and skins from the factory by local tanneries.
To further boost the sector, the Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) has reintroduced livestock transport in its service.
The parastatal has started transportation of livestock on the recently upgraded Nanyuki-Nairobi metre gauge line, a move that will go a long way in supporting the pastoral community who have been using trucks, especially those coming from northern Kenya.
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