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Sustainable small ruminant breeding program for climate-smart villages in Kenya

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Improving productivity of sheep and goats (i.e. small ruminants- SR) under smallholder
farming systems faced with challenges of unfavourable climatic events has been identified as
one means of enhancing livelihoods of communities living in these areas. Interventions are
targeted through clusters of farmers grouped into “climate smart villages” (CSV) under a
collaborative action by CCAFS, ViAgroforestry, World Neighbours and the Kenya
Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization. This baseline study was implemented to
understand the socio-economic aspects, population structure, management practices and
production constraints of SR in the CSV of the Lower Nyando basin of Kenya. The results
indicate that the community is mainly comprised of young people (mainly students) and men
and women above 50 years of age who manage the various households. Land sizes owned are
small, with 58% of the households owning less than one hectare of land on which they grow
crops and rear on average eight SR in addition to some cattle and poultry. The SR reared are
mainly indigenous breeds, with some crossbreds resulting from the few introduced Red
Maasai sheep and the Galla goats for improved productivity. Breeding of SR is not controlled,
and since larger animals fetch better prices on the market, over time negative selection has
affected the SR population. SR are generally left to graze on stovers from crops, and take a
long time to grow to maturity (up to 4 years). Farmers in the CSV know what traits they
desire in their SR, and are willing to learn and change their practices in order to improve their
livelihoods. It is evident that the organization of the households into CSVs provides a great
opportunity for capacity development which should have a strong component of engaging the
youth, and the development of a selection and breed improvement program for SR in the
Lower Nyando area.

Citation

Ojango JMK, Audho J, Oyieng E, Recha J, Muigai A. 2015. Sustainable small ruminant breeding program for climate- smart villages in Kenya: Baseline household survey report. CCAFS Working Paper no. 127. Copenhagen, Denmark: CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).