As stated by the KALRO SP, livestock research shall focus on consumer and market demand for livestock and livestock products in order to enhance commercialization and competitiveness of the sub-sector. Consequently, the livestock products that will be addressed by the Perkerra centre are as stated below:
The main purpose of cattle rearing in ASALs of Kenya is milk production for family consumption and sale for surplus. Small East African Shorthorn Zebus (EASHZ) cattle dominate in cattle population but their milk productivity is low. This has led to introduction of dual purpose Sahiwal sub-breed types of Zebus into ASALs with intention of improving milk yields in relative to with indigenous SEASH Zebus. The Perkerra centre, which houses Apiculture Research Institute, (ARI), rears a stud of Sahiwal cattle for supplying sires to farmers for improving milk yield of the resultant crosses.
Besides being better milk yielders, Sahiwal cattle are better sources of beef than SEASHZ cattle in that they grow faster and reach market weight earlier than indigenous Zebus. However, due to higher population of SEASHZ in ASALs they are therefore sources of beef commodity in the area, needing research attention.
Goat meat in the mandate area of Perkerra centre is provided by local goats which are adapted to the environment in which they are reared. In spite of their great numbers, their body size are smaller than galla goats. The later are reared in the centre with the purpose of crossbreeding local goats to improve meat qualities. Pure breed of elite galla breed will be reared as a source of sires for farmers use.
Global constraints and challenges inhibiting livestock production in ASALs of Kenya are given in the KALRO SP .Further, government policies and acts to support the enhancement of livestock production in the ASALs are well stated in the KALRO SP. Therefore technologies to improve feed availability and quality of feed are key areas to address so as productivity is maintained across seasons. This is because feeding is the major constraint to achieving the desired livestock products in ASALs. In the ASALs set ups livestock mainly depend on natural pasture and rain-fed forage production which quality and quantity oscillate with seasons. This call for development of conservation techniques to sail through periods of droughts.
ASALs are endowed with flora which provide forage for honey making bees. Honey provide alternative livelihood options to pastoralists living in ASALs. The commodity is highly ranked in terms of priority, hence is important.
vi. Livestock health
Livestock in ASALs face a lot of challenges that include diseases, pests and parasites. Such challenges constrains livestock welfare thus negatively affecting their performance.