KENYA – Residents of the Northeastern counties of Garissa, Wajir, and Mandera are poised to experience transformative changes in their livestock sector following the launch of a 12-year Regional Livestock Programme.

The initiative is a collaborative effort between the Swiss government, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and Mercy Corps.

With a focus on introducing innovative livestock farming approaches and value addition, the project is set to drive growth, improve performance, and maximize returns for farmers in the region.

The program, slated to extend its impact to Somalia and Ethiopia, aims to create an inclusive, resilient, and sustainable livestock market in the Arid and Semi–Aid Lands (ASAL) of Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia.

The choice of these three countries is strategic, considering the interconnected market dynamics and migration patterns of pastoralists across borders.

Speaking at the launch of the program at Garissa University, Swiss Ambassador to Kenya, Valentin Zellweger, underscored the importance of livestock farming in the Horn of Africa’s wealth and economy. He highlighted the potential of innovative approaches, citing camel meat as an example.

In addition, Zellweger emphasized the need to promote camel meat’s qualities, such as low cholesterol, to unlock economic opportunities in the region.

“We have also seen the production of camel bone marrow from camel meat, which is very good for diabetes patients, and there is a big potential, and we will develop it to uplift the economy,” he stated.

Garissa County Deputy Governor Abdi Dagane expressed optimism about the partnership’s impact on sustainable economic growth and livelihood enhancement.

He pledged the county government’s commitment to increasing budget allocations for the livestock sector and formulating policies to boost production and value addition.

Garissa Township MP Mohamed Dekow called for a shift from traditional farming practices to modern approaches that add value to animals.

He emphasized the importance of connecting livestock farmers with local fodder farmers utilizing nearby water resources, such as the River Tana, for irrigation to grow animal feeds.

This, he assured, will create a mutually beneficial situation, boosting the local economy and fostering a win-win scenario for all stakeholders.

As the 12-year Livestock Program takes root, it holds the promise of not only transforming livestock farming practices but also contributing to the overall economic development and well-being of the Northeastern region and beyond.

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