Tabitha lives with her husband and five children in Nzeluni village nearMwingi in Eastern province in Kenya. She was chosen to be theToggenburg buck keeper in the FARM-Africa Kenya Dairy Goat Capacity Building Project.
Her life has changed since becoming involved in the project. Her husband Patrick says, “Now she’s doing well and many people appreciate her. It has also brought recognition for me and I am known for many kilometres through my wife. I enjoy it so much”.
Before the project, Tabitha did not have any goats as she had sold them all to pay for school fees. But as a buck keeper she says, “I benefit through charging fees for using the buck which is 50 KSH [US $0.60] for non-member and 20 KSH[US $0.25] for members”.
Since she got the buck she says that the buck “has serviced 232 local goats” which has earned her a some income as well as benefiting local farmers. “Local people take it very positively” she says “and the offspring of Toggenburg are of more value – around 7000 KSH [US $85] whereas a local goat is 1500 to 2000 KSH [US $18-25]”. She also sells the goat milk and gets up to 2 litres a day and also sells goat manure at 150 KSH [US $1.80] a 50 kilogram bag.
Her income has increased by almost 50 per cent and she earns as much as 700 KSH when it’s a good week. Since the goat project, she has also taken to drinking milk with her tea. “Before I never drank milk” she says.
In addition she has attended several animal training courses so her knowledge of animal health is very much increased – which helps her confidence. Her husband supports her in her endeavours. If she needs more qualified advice on animal health, she gets in touch with Teresa, who lives nearby and who was trained by FARM-Africa (on the same project) to be a community animal health worker (CAHW).
And if Teresa is not able to tackle the problem, she will call Safari Mbui, an animal health assistant, who has a veterinary drugstore nearby with a loan from FARM-Africa. Unless there are dedicated people like Teresa who work within communities, most poor farmers will not have access to animal health care. James Kithuka, FARM-Africa, says that “the level of awareness among farmers in the area has risen and that they are seeking more advice – that must translate into more healthy animals”.