The Household Economic Empowerment Programme (HEEP) is one of the many projects put in place by the Laikipia County Government to address the food shortage, unemployment and reduce the effects of climate change in the county. It provides farmers with indigenous chicken, rabbits, goats and cattle to help sustain their lives. Many small scale farmers have benefitted from this Programme and they have been able to launch their businesses in farm products.
Thomas Chirchir, a resident of Lorian location, Rumuruti Township Ward, visited the Laikipia County Governor, H. E. Hon. Joshua Irungu, and took an interest in chicken rearing. This was after the county governor gave him and his group members a tour of his home and explained the advantages of rearing indigenous chicken. He is a member of the Tuigoin Kilimo Biashara group which was formed for the purpose of vegetable farming but due to inadequate water and the hard economic times, was put on hold. He bought 60 indigenous chicken through HEEP which enabled the county government to pay 100 shillings and he only had to contribute 150 shillings for each chick. The county government also provided transport of the poultry fromthe Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization(KALRO) in Naivasha, to locations where each farmer could easily access them.
Thomas lost two chicken to the harsh weather conditions and diseases. He was once again faced with the challenge of feeding them because the chicks and the male birds were consuming a lot of food and he needed more eggs from the layers. He then decided to sell 14 cocks each at aprice of 600 shillings which he felt was not enough considering the amount of food that went into raising them but the money helped him buy food for the remaining poultry. He plans on expanding his chicken shelters and rearing up to 400 chicken. The poultry have so far laid 200 eggs which he sold to another farmer who is in another group that benefitted with an incubator from the county government. Thomas feeds them roughly grounded maize, wheat and small fish (daaga).
According to experts from KALRO, he does not add enough supplements such as mineralswhich are crucial to the layers. They also advised him to buy DCT salt rich in Calcium and Phosphorous which aid in shell formation in eggs. The correct formulation is important to ensure that the poultry get the minerals, proteins and energy requirement they need and not an excessive amount which only leads to losses to the farmer. The experts sought to demonstrate how to carefully measure and formulate the poultry feeds to avoid cases of deficiency resulting to low production through a field day.
Samwel Kimei, another chicken farmer in Rumuruti Township Ward, is faced with the same challenges of feeding, pest and disease infestation and has lost a lot of poultry because of this. He also acquired his chicken through the Household Economic Empowerment Programme and is very grateful to the County Government of Laikipia.
A member of Salima Self Help group, Andrew Kigotho, is also another benefactor of the HEEP project. The County Government helped him buy the chicken, deliver them and also provided the group with incubators for the eggs. They were trained on how to use them but lack of electricity in most households is still a challenge which forces them to keep the incubators in one homestead with power.
Experts from KALRO advise farmers to prevent diseases through vaccination because many poultry diseases are caused by viruses and a lot of these diseases have no cure. They also recommend hygiene by regularly cleaning the chicken shelter which keep the parasites and disease at bay. They aim at promoting successful farming that raises the standards of the local farmer by training and empowering them to choose poultry with high mothering ability, disease resilience and easy to raise. They also encourage farmers to be self-reliant.
A farmer field day will be organized in order to train and educate farmers on chicken rearing, that is, the type of nutrients to use and how to formulate feeds correctly. KALRO will work together with the County Governmentof Laikipiato come up with a vaccination schedule to be used for the prevention of various poultry diseases.