COVID-19 health protocols like social distancing, reduced travel and lockdown of some counties is wreaking havoc to livestock traders in West Pokot County.
Most of the country’s livestock comes from pastoral communities living in arid and semi-arid areas like West Pokot county.
The economic activity plays a huge role in the livelihoods across a number of households in the county given by the huge number of cattle, goats and sheep.
However prices have been plummeting since COVID-19 was reported in the country with farmers and traders in the county operating at minimal profits.
According to traders at Kishaunet livestock auction centre in West Pokot County the price of a cow has dropped to an average of between Kshs. 30, 000 and Kshs.15, 000 from Kshs. 40,000 and Kshs. 25, 000 whereas goat and sheep prices have nosedived to Kshs. 6, 000 and Kshs. 3000 from between Kshs.8000 and Kshs. 6000 respectively.
They attributed the fall in prices to high supply by farmers to needy consumers who are also struggling with the measures put in place to curb COVID-19.
Rodgers Kamatira, a trader at the centre said lack of demand due to prevailing low consumption of meat in urban areas has affected his daily sales since the pandemic struck.
“I used to have many urban retailers who owned butcheries and used to come and buy livestock for slaughter purposes but since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country, this has not been so owing to the movement restriction in and out of counties including Nairobi,” Kamatira narrated.
He singled out a livestock traders from Nairobi who used to boost his business by buying his livestock for slaughter but have since disappeared.
His sentiment were echoed by another trader Mark Lodou who noted
“I used to make huge profits but the outbreak of COVID-19 affected me so much. Nowadays I get less profit from the business.”