West Pokot County has rolled out a free vaccination exercise for goats and sheep against Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR). The program which was launched on Tuesday at Dungudungu village in Central Pokot Sub County is targeting to reach over 90,000 goats and sheep in the entire County.
The move seeks to make the region disease free and enhancing the quality of meat and milk to boost the market for livestock animals.
Speaking during the official launch of the exercise, West Pokot County Director of Veterinary Services Dr. James Merisia said the disease was first reported in the County in 2007.
“The disease which has no cure has now become an epidemic disease in this County and we fear farmers may encounter huge losses if it’s not controlled,” he said.
He said the disease can only be controlled through vaccination and asked farmers to ensure their animals are part of the exercise which will run for one week in Sigor Constituency.
Merisia said the disease spread to the County from Turkana County and they have managed to control it since no deaths have been reported in the region.
“We shall vaccinate in Batei, Chepareria, Sook Endough ,Seker Lomut, Masol and Wei wei wards,” he said.
He said the County had procured 90,000 doses of vaccines that will be able to vaccinate animals against the disease for a period of two months.
West Pokot CEC for livestock Geoffrey Lipale said they want to eradicate all diseases from the region and declare the County disease-free.
He said livestock keeping is the backbone of the County and the program will enable farmers to cater for school fees. “We want to access the international market for our meat and milk and we can only achieve this dream when we totally eradicate diseases from this region,” he said.
He said the program will help residents to stop engaging in cattle rustling activities since the livestock that enter the County from other regions come with various diseases that spread very fast.
West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo said the County is targeting European markets for its meat product.
“We must put measures in place to ensure that we supply disease-free meat that meets international standards before we start exporting,” he said.
Lonyangapuo also said that farmers from the region will be able to reap huge profits from the venture.
The County has a population of close to 400,000 cattle, 444,600 goats and 360,000 sheep according to data from the department of veterinary services. West Pokot is also one of the leading regions in livestock keeping in the country with most farmers practising pastoralism. Only 58,000 of the total cattle population in the County are reared for dairy purposes.