Descriptive analysis of the Dairy - Crop mixed farming system in // Wundanyi Division of Taita District, Kenya
This study was carried out to analyse the mixed crop-dairy farming system in the highlands of Wundanyi Division, Taita District, Kenya. The aims of the study were to identify the farmers' objectives; to determine resource availability and allocation; to identify the constraints, coping strategies and opportunities; and to get the trends of the farming system activities, performance and interactions. The study was undertaken over an eleven months period to capture the activities and trends in the two rainy seasons in the area. The initial data was collected using participatory rural appraisal (PRA) and a structured questionnaire survey in nine villages. This was followed by a dynamic study involving a sample of thirty farms where data was collected twice per month using direct measurements and observations. The results pointed at a subsistence livelihood with a low level of technology adoption and general farm management such as fodder and breeding management. Farms are small with a mean of 2.3 acres and the farm area devoted to food crops was 52.7% and that to forage crops 24.1%, but the majority of farmers (69.9%) produce their own fodder. Animal health technicians, extension officers and inseminators are few and far from reach and this is a real constraint to technology extension and implementation. The dairy cow is the most important livestock and cattle formed the bulk of the Total Livestock Units with 89.1%. Mean milk production per day was 7 litres and the price was KSh 20 (US$ 0.25) per litre. High cost of cattle artificial insemination (A.I.) services was ranked the most important problem in livestock production followed by low production, pests and diseases, low milk prices, inadequate fodder in the dry season and lack of milk cooling facilities. There is room for improvement in optimization of resources and productivity and the strategy should be to move beyond coping strategies towards exploitation of the identified opportunities namely training, credit, increased fodder production and preservation, improved breeding and value addition of milk, among others.