By Abdi Hussein
The prices of livestock have shot up in Kajiado County as a ravaging drought hit most parts of the vast county diminishing pasture.
The animals supply in the major local markets has sharply declined caused by most herders to relocate with their herds to neighbouring counties in search of pasture.
The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) has classified the county among the counties hard hit by drought.
Parts of Kajiado Central and West sub counties are greatly affected with Magadi residents bearing the major brunt of the looming drought.
A spot check recently in many homesteads indicated only a few weak animals and calves have been left behind grappling with the harsh reality of the drought.
In both Namanga and Ilbissil livestock markets, the prices of mature animals have increased from Sh 60,000 to Sh 80,000 in three months.
A healthy mature sSheep is fetching between Sh 7,000 and Sh 9,000 up from Sh 6,000 a few months ago. Goats price increment is minimal due to their adaptability nature.
Mr James Ole Nkapapa,Ibissil slaughterhouse chairman, said relocating of animals has prompted few customers to jostle for the few animals available in the market. He said healthy mature animals are currently few due to drought.
“Most of the remaining animals are weak and emaciated but the few healthy ones are fetching a fortune to the owners. The prices are high for fattened animals but they are few,” said Ole Nkapapa adding only rains will rejuvenate the livestock business in the area.
The Kenya-Tanzania cross border livestock market has not recovered fully owing to Covid -19 disruption including movement restrictions imposed in 2020 by Kenyan authorities.
The herders want the government to step in and buy their livestock under the offtake programme. Kenya Meat commission (KMC) has announced plans to roll out the programme in some of the drought-stricken counties.
Livestock traders who ferry animals in lorries to Nairobi and other destinations have significantly reduced. They cite less animal availability and high prices.
“A mature emaciated cow is retailing for not less than Sh 40,000 but fetch very little once slaughtered and sold to customers. The livestock business is plummeting at an alarming rate,” said John Kimaita, a trader.
Local butchery owners are feeling the heat of animal prices increase. They said meat customers have reduced in the recent months making the meat business untenable.
“The prices of animals in the market are high against few customers. The prices of meat have remained constant. Some of us will be forced to close in case the situation remains the same,” lamented James Mwangi, butchery owner Ilbissil.
Kajiado’s livestock sector has an annual turnover of Sh 3.2 billion with more than 110,000 heads of cattle sold in one year in its main markets of Ilbissil, Kimana, Emali and Shompole.
Livestock data at the County show more than 300,000 goats and sheep are sold every year at the Ilbissil and Sultan Hamud markets alone.