Nomadic Pastoralism in Kenya

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Livestock Farming refers to the rearing of domesticated animals such cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, camels, and poultry for subsistence and sales

Livestock Farming  refers to the rearing of domesticated animals such cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, camels, and poultry for subsistence and sales

It is divided into the following: –

  • Traditional livestock farming.
  • Livestock ranching.
  • Commercial livestock farming
  • Traditional Livestock Farming

Traditional Livestock Farming is also referred to as nomadic or subsistence pastoralism or pastoralism

It is the extensive grazing of livestock on natural pasture involving constant and seasonal migration of the nomads/pastoralists and their livestock in search of water and pasture; a process referred to as transhumance

It is mainly practiced in the arid and semi-arid lands e.g. in Turkana, Wajir, Garissa, Mandera, Kajiado, Narok, and Marsabit counties

The pastoral communities in Kenya include Maasai, Samburu, Somali, Borana, Turkana and Pokot

Factors favouring Nomadic Pastoralism in Kenya

  • The grazing areas are free from tsetse fly due to hot and dry conditions.
  • Availability of large tracts of land for grazing due to the sparse population in Northern and North eastern regions.
  • Availability of natural pasture in the wooded savanna lands.
  • The gentle slopes/undulating terrain enable easy movement of stock from one place to another.

Problems facing pastoralism in Kenya

  • Prolonged drought leads to shortage of water and scarcity of pasture.
  • Overstocking leads to overgrazing hence poor pastures.
  • Pests and diseases such as rinderpest, east coast fever, foot and mouth, ticks and tsetse fly reduce the quality of the animals.
  • Low quality local breeds e.g. zebu, boran that yield little milk and provide low quality meat.
  • Animals are frequently attacked by wild animals.
  • Shortage of extension/veterinary services due to their nomadic nature.
  • Insufficient marketing systems, lack of information on market conditions makes them be exploited by middlemen.
  • Frequent livestock raids/cattle rustling.
  • Low level of education and culture hinder them from practicing modern methods of livestock farming.
  • Competition for range pastures with wildlife.
  • Poor transport connection hinders accessibility to potential markets.
  • Fire outbreaks destroy huge tracts of the grassland hindering their regeneration/reducing pasture land.

Steps taken by Kenyan Government to Improve the Quality of Livestock in the areas practicing Nomadic Pastoralism

  • Establishing demonstration ranches to sensitize pastoralists on better methods of animal husbandry.
  • Cattle dips have been constructed to control pests.
  • The government is encouraging group ranching to enable the pastoralists to view livestock keeping as a commercial undertaking.
  • Boreholes have been sunk and dams constructed in the practicing areas to provide water for livestock.
  • Introduction of drought resistant nutritious grass.
  • Encouraging cross breeding of indigenous breed with hybrid breeds to improve the quality of livestock.
  • Improvement of transport system in the areas to facilitate transportation to the markets.
  • Establishment of Kenya Meat Commission to guarantee market for livestock.
  • Establishment of Anti Stock theft police to curb cattle raids.
  • Educating the pastoralists on land carrying capacity so that they control the number of livestock.
  • Research centers have been established for pest and disease control.
  • Provision of veterinary and extension services