Drought / Drylands / East Africa / ILRI / Kenya / Markets / Pastoralism

Meat exports and livestock jobs could transform Kenya’s drought-stricken northern lands

the northern road

The main road running north to Ethiopia from Samburu land, in northern Kenya (photo on Flickr by meaduva).

‘Livestock could turn Kenya’s drought-stricken northern lands into an engine of job creation, rather than a sinkhole for emergency aid, the minister for the region has said.

‘Almost 4 million Kenyans needed food aid in early 2012 following a devastating drought the previous year. Many communities were left destitute as their cattle, sheep and goats were wiped out.

The potential of livestock has not even been touched a little,” Mohamed Elmi, minister for Northern Kenya and other arid lands, told AlertNet in an interview.

‘“In North Eastern (Province) alone, if the Kenya market was made more efficient it would create 400,000 jobs.”

‘He was referring to the epicentre of last year’s crisis, which borders Somalia and Ethiopia, where people traditionally keep animals on drylands that cannot support arable farming.

Kenya is a meat‐deficit country. A 2008 paper by the International Livestock Research Institute suggested the 400,000 jobs could be created if half of that domestic deficit were to be met by increased livestock production from North Eastern Province.

‘. . . The government is now in the final stages of finalising a 10-year strategy paper aimed at transforming the arid and semi-arid lands that occupy over 80 percent of Kenya. Current plans include constructing abattoirs and improving infrastructure.

‘Livestock already contributes to almost half of Kenya’s agricultural gross domestic product (GDP).

‘With the right investment, Elmi believes, Kenya could export vast quantities of meat to regional markets. . . .’

Read the full article by Katy Migiro in Alertnet: Kenya’s north—from aid basket to meat exporter?, 8 May 2012.

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