In Summary
  • For many Kenyans, having been born and bred in the rural areas, the guy called “Veterinary” is the stereotype for a veterinary surgeon.
  • Veterinary doctors are also trained to do artificial insemination in animals but their training covers a universe of many other skills and expertise.
  • Any investor planning to start large-scale livestock enterprises in the rural production areas should be supported with the appropriate infrastructure.
  • Furthermore, distribution of beef products from the rural production areas would start immediately from the factory gate and the nearest urban areas.

When I tell people that I am a veterinary doctor, the next thing they ask is, “So do you inseminate cows?” This question is so cliché that I am always tempted to answer it even before it is asked.

True, artificial insemination is a critical activity in veterinary practice as it guarantees production of high quality dairy and beef cattle.

For many Kenyans, having been born and bred in the rural areas, the guy called “Veterinary” is the stereotype for a veterinary surgeon.

This is the person, and they always used to be men, who would come to the artificial insemination crush with long plastic paper gloves and give the cow “seeds”.

The so-called seeds are actually semen commercially prepared from high quality bulls. The “Veterinary” is someone trained in cattle insemination at certificate level.

Veterinary doctors are also trained to do artificial insemination in animals but their training covers a universe of many other skills and expertise.

During the last two months, I have had an increase in the number of people wishing to draw on my expertise in livestock finishing and slaughter.

A number of people have asked me whether it would be economical for them to buy animals in the pastoral areas, fatten them and transport them for slaughter in the urban areas.

That brings me to a meeting we had with the governor of one of the rangeland counties in early February this year. We were considering a proposal to establish an integrated beef industry in the county.

This is an enterprise that would involve feed production and preservation, beef cattle breeding, rearing, fattening, slaughter and meat processing.

The meat products would then be distributed to both the Kenyan and export market.

MAKE PERFECT SENSE

At one point, the governor looked at me and asked “Dr Joseph, do you think it makes sense to slaughter cattle and process meat far away from the main markets?”

“It makes perfect sense as long as the processing area has sufficient infrastructure such as water, electricity and tarmac roads,” I responded.

Thereafter, I fully explained to the governor why it is highly worthy for his county to encourage setting up of an integrated beef enterprise.

You see, in Kenya, we have this culture where we believe the raw material must be transported to the urban centres for processing.

For instance, we transport cattle over 600km from Turkana to slaughter them at Dagoretti, in Nairobi.

Yet we have a different model in tea where we process the raw material in many factories located in the rural production areas. The processed tea is then sold both locally and internationally.

We could use the same model for livestock production and processing.

Transporting cattle and other livestock from the rural production areas to the urban for slaughter and meat processing has very many disadvantages.

Any investor planning to start large-scale livestock enterprises in the rural production areas should be supported with the appropriate infrastructure.

In my view, the government should even consider investment incentives such as tax break for such business people.

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