By Judith Akolo
Prices of livestock have sharply declined in Samburu County especially in Maralal town to the chagrin of the business community and parents will school going children alike.
The business community especially livestock sellers are worried that the economy in Samburu County is heading to a shambles with the drop in livestock prices.
Most sellers have attributed the drop to a surplus of livestock on the market as parents sell their livestock to raise school fees for their children set to join form one.
Livestock is the main source of earning among pastoralists, but with a surplus on the market, prices have sharply dropped and now prospecting sellers are appealing to the State Department of Livestock in the Ministry of Agriculture to intervene.
They note that lack of value addition by the buyers who sell raw meat which is perishable has made it difficult to maintain profitable prices for their livestock.
“What we are currently experiencing in this market is poor market prices due to shortage of livestock buyers particularly from outside our Samburu County. The price of sheep, goats and cows has greatly decreased in recent weeks compared to that of December that was relatively high, said businessman Sylvestor Lelessit and added, “A cow that went for Kshs 15,000 in December, now is selling at Ksh 6,000.”
Lelessit urged the Samburu County government to invest in infrastructure including abattoirs that are fitted with the requisite implements to help in value addition.
He urged for investment in the livestock sector by the County as livestock keeping and pastoralism is the mainstay of the people in Samburu County.
“Our county government should welcome investors in the livestock sector and enable us to reap the benefits of livestock keeping,” said Lelessit.
“Selling a cow at Ksh 8,000 is like throwing away a most valued asset, with these low prices we will not be able to send our children to school, said Amos Lengojine a parent and added, “I appeal to county government to provide bursaries for our children or give us soft loans which we can offset once we are able to sell our livestock at a better price.
Samburu County is one of the counties in the Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASALs) whose main economic is livestock keeping which provides them with much needed food including; milk, meat and blood.
The rainfall pattern in Samburu County is erratic and on average receives between 750mm in the lowlands to 1200mm on the mountain and plateaus making the area unsuitable for arable farming especially in the lowlands.