It is the season of politics and one man is nowhere to be seen – Dr Chris Murungaru.
Once a powerful cabinet minister, it was expected that Dr Murungaru will be one of the many candidates. But not so.
He has found new love in cattle breeding in his Amboni Farm near Mweiga in Nyeri County.
From here, Dr Murungaru is making a difference in dairy farming and has made a name in local and international markets.
Amboni Farm is now being celebrated for having some of the best stock one can find anywhere in the world – and some of his animals produces between 40 and 50 litres of milk a day. In a country where most dairy farmers, are satisfied with 15 litres a day from a cow, Dr Murungaru has some breeds that are superior and that is why he also supplies semen to local research stations such as Kabete and to farms in countries like Zambia, Malawi, USA, Canada and New Zealand, among others.
“Animal breeding has been my passion through most of my working life. This is something I started long before I went into politics. It is something I can’t let even politics interfere with. This is my other life,” Dr Murungaru once told a local newspaper.
“I have always been fascinated by the idea of making maximum use of small pieces of land to get maximum returns for the farmer. The secret is breeding, breeding and more breeding,” he said.
Established in 1986, it has taken him more than 30 years of research to get where he is today. An embryo off Amboni Farm for implantation in other cows is quoted at $350 (Sh35,000).
“What we are hoping for is that in the near future we will be able to establish a breeding centre where we can concentrate all technologies to produce high yielding animals that are also accessible to farmers in terms of cost,” he says.
“That we are able to keep 140 animals on 22 acres means that a farmer with an acre can keep four cows. If they produce an average of 40 litres each, the farmer can sell 160 litres a day. If you deduct the cost of production, the farmer would have an income of over Sh80,000 a month.”
Embryo transfer is important because, under natural breeding, only a fraction of the reproductive potential of one animal is achieved. While the average bull will sire 15 to 50 calves a year, a cow will produce an average 10 calves in a lifetime. In embryo transfer, a cow is treated to achieve super-ovulation.
Once this happens, artificial insemination using certified sperms of genetically superior bulls is applied. The resulting embryos are harvested and transferred to surrogate mothers for gestation. This is already happening on the farm.
“When we eventually get the centre off the ground, we will be able to embrace cutting-edge technology called Genomics. Using this technology, you are able to do DNA analysis of a bull strands to determine how much milk its heifer will produce and how they will look like,” says Dr Murungaru.