Stakeholders move to enhance productivity and efficiency in Kenya’s dairy sector for lower greenhouse gas emissions

Agroforestry for Dairy Farming: Rose Koech, milking a cow at her farm in Kembu, Bomet County in Kenya. She grows fodder trees, shrubs and grass for dairy cattle. World Agroforestry Centre/Sherry Odeyo

Agroforestry for dairy farming:
Rose Koech, milking a cow at her farm in Kembu, Bomet County in Kenya. She grows fodder trees, shrubs and grass for dairy cattle. World Agroforestry Centre/Sherry Odeyo

As part of the historic UN Paris Climate Agreement of 2015, countries committed to fight climate change by reducing their greenhouse gas emissions from various sectors, including agriculture. Kenya is not being left behind. Stakeholders from the dairy sector recently met to discuss measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Worldwide, the livestock sector is responsible for 14% of all human induced greenhouse gas emission. Dairy is a major economic activity in Kenya’s agricultural sector and a source of livelihood to some 500,000 people engaged through the value chain. The industry engages one million smallholder farmers who account for 80% of milk produced in Kenya, with large-scale farming accounting for the remaining 20%.

Led by the State Department of Livestock, the dairy Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) project aims to transform Kenya’s dairy sector to a low-emission development pathway, while improving the livelihoods of male and female dairy producers. In line with Kenya’s Vision 2030, this will contribute to the country’s green growth economy and realize climate resilience benefits to dairy producers. The focus is on increasing on-farm dairy productivity, reducing non-renewable energy use and building capacities of national institutions and stakeholders in monitoring and evaluation of project outputs, outcomes and impacts.

Like most developing countries, Kenya’s dairy sector faces challenges. These include low quality genetics, insufficient extension services, inadequate and poor quality feeds, high costs of investments for smallholders, high cost of certified inputs, land tenure systems, inadequate physical and marketing structures and climate change effects.

Dr. Andrew Tuimur, Principal Secretary for Livestock at a meeting of dairy stakeholders in Kenya. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Susan Onyango

Dr. Andrew Tuimur, Principal Secretary for Livestock at a meeting of dairy stakeholders in Kenya. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Susan Onyango

Speaking at the meeting, Dr. Andrew Tuimur, Principal Secretary for Livestock, outlined steps that the government has taken in developing both legal and institutional frameworks to address some of these issues. In place are the agriculture (2015), revised livestock, veterinary and dairy policies, alongside a dairy master plan and implementation strategy.

“All these efforts are geared towards ensuring increased productivity from the dairy sector, and one of the greatest challenges that will hinder achievement of this will be climate change effects. This therefore calls for the design and implementation of climate-smart policies and strategies,” said Dr. Timur.

Considerable efforts have been made to integrate climate change into policies and programmes, including the development of the National Climate Change Response Strategy, National Climate Change Action Plan 2013-2017 and the recent Climate Change Act.

The dairy NAMA will reach 227,000 dairy producing households across the country and is expected to yield an additional 6.6 billion litres of milk per annum, reaching over 30 million consumers.

In addition to increased production and employment opportunities, the dairy NAMA will trigger a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and benefit climate resilience. Further, sustainable pasture management and agro-forestry will boost soil and above ground carbon stocks, soil health will be improved and the resilience of natural grasslands and livestock to climate change will be enhanced.

Kenya’s dairy NAMA is being developed with financial support from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and UN FAO, and with technical support from UNIQUE forestry and land use and the World Agroforestry Centre. Ultimately, the plan will vitalize dairy development by enhancing dairy efficiency and optimizing energy along the value chain to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Participants at the Kenya dairy stakeholders' meeting discussing options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock sector. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Susan Onyango

Participants at the Kenya dairy stakeholders’ meeting discussing options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock sector. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Susan Onyango

Present were representatives of the private sector, including Brookside Dairies, New KCC, Githunguri Dairy, Meru Central Dairy Cooperative, Mukurweini Dairy Ltd, Biogas International, Takamoto Biogas, FinGas, as well as financial institutions including Kenya Women’s Finance Trust and Chase Bank. Development partners present included the Finance Innovation for Climate Change Fund, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), SNV Netherlands Development Organization and Smallholder Dairy Commercialization Programme.

Also see:

Steps towards Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions for Kenya’s dairy sector

Livestock mitigation: Opportunities for farmers, climate agreements across the globe

We would like to thank all donors who support research in development through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.

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Susan Onyango

Susan Onyango

Susan Onyango is the communications specialist for climate change for the World Agroforestry Centre and is based at the headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. With over 12 year’s experience in communication, she promotes the World Agroforestry Centre’s work on climate change, writes blogs and provides communication advice and support to scientists. Susan holds a MA communication studies and a BA in English. Twitter: @susanonyango

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