The Influence Of Livestock Keeping On Food Security Of Agro Pastoral Communities In Mutomo District, Kitui County
The objectives of the study were to determine the influence of livestock to household foods security, the influence of government policies on livestock, influence of access to markets for livestock and their products and food security and the relationship between crops farming and livestock production. The study used a case study design targeting Mutomo District as a representative of communities who practice livestock keeping as well as crops farming as a source of their livelihood. The targeted population comprised of the farmers and government officials in the two relevant Ministries of Agriculture and the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development. Data collection was carried out using semi-structured questionnaires and an interview guide. The semi structured questionnaires were administered to 150 agro pastoralists and fifteen government officers in three divisions of Mutomo district. The data from the field was coded into a code book for quantitative data analysis that involved frequency distribution and cross tabulations among other statistical techniques. The analyzed data established that there were Government policies that influence livestock production in the agro pastoral communities. These policies have a positive or negative impact on the role livestock plays to food security in these communities. There existed agricultural extension officers though most of the farmers had never seen them on their farms hence adapting traditional ways of livestock farming which might be the reason for poor production. All the farmers in the district traveled for less than 5 kilometres from their homes to the market centres. These centres were for selling their livestock and their products hence acquiring money to cater for their daily expenses, school fees and other expenses. There is a strong positive relationship between food crop farming and livestock production. The integration of livestock and crops allows for efficient nutrient recycling at the farm level. The researcher recommended that the farmers should be encouraged to increase the number of animals and varieties kept, the Government should increase the number of Agricultural extension offices in Mutomo district, farmers should be encouraged to organize themselves into self-help groups to help them pursue better markets for their animals including obtaining loans to expand their farming. The researcher further recommends that the farmers should have better storage facilities for their farm residues and manure for feeding their animals and fertilizing their farms.