The much-awaited Livestock Off-take Programme has kicked off in Marsabit County as the government seeks to cushion farmers against the severe drought ravaging pastoralist areas in the country.
The National Livestock Off-take Programme which was officially launched by the State Department of Livestock Principal Secretary (PS), Harry Kimutai, in Maikona Ward, would also be undertaken in other Nine (9) counties, in a bid to reduce loss of animals to drought.
National Treasury Cabinet Secretary (CS) Ukur Yattani who graced the occasion termed drought aggravated by climate change as the major handle in the growth of arid areas in the country.
Mr Yattani said the Government would besides Marsabit, carry out the Livestock Off-take Programme in counties of Mandera, Wajir, Kilifi and Samburu, Turkana, Isiolo, Garissa, Lamu and Kitui.
Mr Kimutai said the livestock industry was a priority of the government and that Sh 450 million has been set aside for the exercise,that would be carried out in phases.
The PS assured livestock farmers in the affected regions that more funds would be allocated, in case the dry spell persisted.
The Principal Secretary added that weak livestock will be bought from farmers for slaughter at the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC), to boost the national food reserve.
Livestock traders in ASAL areas were asked to also seize the opportunity, by buying animals and selling to KMC for sustained business and employment.
KMC has already purchased 5,200 livestock that include goats, sheep and cattle at a cost of Sh 40 million from residents of Maikona ward alone.
KMC Director Brigadier James Githange disclosed that the government was targeting to purchase between 11,000 and 12,000 livestock in the ten counties in the first phase of the programme.
Buying centres, he said would be based at the sub counties with willing farmers registering with the relevant authorities.
Marsabit County Commissioner (CC), Paul Rotich, said the County has a huge potential as it produced the largest stock of sheep and goats in the country.
Mr Rotich added that the government was keen to regulate the meat market in order to ensure that livestock famers benefitted from their hard work not only within the country but foreign markets.
That way, the CC said residents would be helped to generate wealth and be food secure.