Meat is often more looked after at buffets instead of vegetables and fruits, and why is that? It is because protein as a nutrient is the most expensive of them all.
Animal products such as milk, meat and eggs supply these important nutrients to people. It is the consumption of this products that will keep a livestock farmer in business. So let’s talk organic farming.
With the current shift into healthier diets, conventional animal rearing production systems that do not guarantee safety.
The global move to tame antimicrobial resistance will see products with antibiotic residues without a market. In many farms, it is common to find some animals reared by the side without use of chemicals or synthetics.
This is what the farmer consumes but sells the drug and chemical laced products to the market. The ethics of such a setup is questionable.
Did you know that organic farming and therefore organic livestock production offers tremendous opportunity?
FAO and WHO define organic farming to be holistic production management system which promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health. It emphasises the use of management practices in preference to the use of off-farm inputs.
Furthermore, it emphasises use of agronomic, biological, and mechanical methods, as opposed to using synthetic materials. Additionally, it presents a more of a preventative approach as opposed to curative one.
To be an organic farmer in Kenya you will need to be certified by Organic farming institutions like Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN) (http://www.koan.co.ke). However, this can only happen upon meeting elaborate criteria.
There are also independent certification bodies such as Encert limited (http://www.encert.co.ke). Your products get a certification label and consumers are able to select them among non-organics. Animals that are organically produced are expected to adhere to the following;
- To be provided with organically produced forage through their lives
- Raised in an environment that enhances normal behaviour free from stress that observes all animal welfare standards set.
- Be raised devoid of synthetic feeds and additives and prohibited substances such as antibiotics, hormones, animal by-products, etc.
- Animals are to be raised in clean environments to minimise chances of diseases.
- Have proper records kept at all time.
Potential obstacles and benefits
This seems an uphill task to achieve. However, with information and persistence farmers are able to rip the sweet fruits of organic farming. The good news is organisations that support organic farming, will train you and also look for both local and international markets for the products.
Apart from better market prices and wholesome products, organic farming goes a long way in maintain the environment. It is also document that organic farming gives more profits from reduction of cost such as costs of treating animals. This is especially in the long-run.
In conclusion, the competitiveness of any farmer will depend on their ability to elucidate future market cue. In addition, to also correctly adjust their enterprises so as to remain relevant. Seize the moment now.
By, Dr Nderitu Nyaga
Department of Veterinary Anatomy and Physiology, Egerton University