KENYA – The government has released Sh157 million to the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) to clear its debts.

Agriculture secretary Felix Koskei said the Athi River-based abattoir had cleared farmers’ debts but still owes some institutions money.

“We do not as of now owe any farmer money, but we are talking to other creditors like the First Community Bank to make arrangements on how to clear outstanding debts,” Mr Koskei said during a Press briefing at KMC on Tuesday.

He said that Sh700 million set aside for the factory in the last budget will go towards an upgrade and pledged to get rid of cartels which have been frustrating the management of the facility.

Mr Koskei said that a contractor, who is yet to be identified, will be required to do an audit of the factory, adding that equipment at the facility was obsolete.

Preparatory work for the upgrade should be complete by June 2015, he said. The government had contracted experts from the School of Government to assess staff needs, he said, adding that some employees were unqualified.

Value-added products

He said he would appoint a board to assist newly appointment chairman Taraiya ole Koros in overseeing the running of the institution.

Mr Koskei also launched a three-year livestock enhancement project financed by the US government through USAid. He said that although Kenya was well placed to be one of the region’s market leaders in value-added livestock products, the industry was not competitive.

“It is important for the livestock sector to increase its competitiveness and re-align its policies in the face of competition from neighbouring countries.

“This calls for an upgrade of the value chain to eliminate inefficiency and lower production costs while increasing product quality,” he said.

He noted that low technical investment had adversely affected livestock production and urged USAid to come up with community-based livestock breeding schemes in arid and semi-arid areas.

“This will help lower the cost of sourcing improved stock from breeders while at the same time sourcing quality reproductive services where feasible,” he said.

US ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec said the Sh1.7 billion USAid project will help livestock stakeholders to integrate into the formal market and produce commercially.

“We expect about 300,000 livestock-dependent households, 60,000 livestock producers, and 3,200 agribusinesses to benefit from this programme.

“Agro-pastoralists in semi-arid regions struggle to survive in the face of unreliable water sources, cyclical droughts, livestock diseases and limited inputs and services,” he said.

The project covers the six counties of Taita Taveta, Machakos, Makueni, Kitui, Tharaka-Nthi and Meru.

November 8, 2014;