By Bob Aston
Youths have the potential to contribute to food security, economic development, social inclusion, and stability. Youths particularly from arid and semi-arid areas can play an active role in empowering communities through promoting improved breeds.
In Nyabolo area of Ildigiri, Laikipia North Sub County, the Kijabe Integrated Youth against Aids and Poverty (KIYAAP) has been improving the livelihood and health status of Ildigiri community by promoting youth initiatives through pooling resources together, engaging in income generating activities, environmental conservation, and livestock breeding.
|Members of KIYAAP with agriculture officers admiring some of their Galla goats|
Although the youths formed the group in 2010, they only registered it in 2014. The 30-member group, 18 men and 12 women has enabled 100 community members receive training on leadership skills and natural resources management.
The members have also been training Ildigiri community on cash management, and entrepreneurship development. In addition, two group members have received Trainer of trainers (TOT) in apiary management by Bees Abroad UK.
Mr. Paul Manyas, Secretary KIYAAP Youth Group said that the group has laid a lot of emphasis on empowering communities through breed improvement. This has mainly been through improving sheep’s through crossbreeding with dorper rams and improving goats through crossbreeding with Galla goats.
He said that crossbreeding helps in heterosis as the crossbred sheep and goats are more vigour, more fertile and grow faster than pure bred. Crossbred sheep and goats are also able to utilize breed complementarity.
He noted that dorper ram is a suitable sheep breed in Laikipia County as they do well in arid areas. They are also fast growing meat producing sheep that does not require a lot of care. The Galla goats are resilient as they can cope with tough climatic conditions. They are also the milk queen of the Kenyan arid and semi-arid areas. In addition, they carry better milk genes and give better opportunity for genetic selection for this trait.
“The demand for galla goats and Dorper rams is high. We are not even able to satisfy the market,” said Mr. Manyas.
He noted that inbreeding in the area had resulted in small sheep and goats that take long to mature and fetch lower prices.
Last year the group procured and distributed 30 sheep and 30 goats to 60 households through a grant from East Africa Wildlife society in collaboration with Laikipia County Natural Resource Network (LAICONAR). They have also been providing 64 Galla goats and 10 dorper rams for communities to crossbreed. The group also has 41 rams that they are using to expand their business.
ECO-Agriculture also supported the group by providing 33 Galla does and 3 bucks as well as 51 dorper rams.
“We aim to enhance the health and economic livelihood of IL-Digiri community by involving the youth in sustainable environmental management and income generating activities,” said Mr. Manyas.
Mr. Manyas said that limited finance has prevented the group from achieving a lot but despite that, more than 250 community members have benefited through the group initiatives. They have been using the member’s monthly contribution and sourced funds to finance most of their operations.
Mr. Munyes believes that the future of the group as well as the Ildigiri community is bright and the increased income through crossbred sheep’s and goats will ensure they improve their livelihood.