• Lualenyi Ranch has recently established a strategic partnership with the KCB Foundation under the Mifugo Ni Mali program
• The partnership has resulted in an upgrade of the feeding facilities and stores as the KCB Foundation helped them to market and sell their cattle with remarkable progress.
Located in Taita-Taveta County and measuring approximately 106,000 acres, Lualenyi Ranch was established in 1963.
It had for long strived to carve a name for itself but struggled to live up to its owners’ ambition and to make a contribution to Kenya’s livestock industry.
The farm has recently established a strategic partnership with the KCB Foundation and is now on its way to becoming a top producer of beef cattle.
We spoke to the Chairman of Lualenyi ranch, Mr John Msabaa, to find out more about the partnership with the KCB Foundation and the ranch’s ambitions.
Star Journalist: How did this partnership with KCB Foundation start?
John: One of the directors and I happened to be listening to the radio at a time where we were keen to improve our herd. Times were changing and we needed to fast track sales and thereby improve our business. We deal with fattening cattle and speed is of the essence. So an advertisement about Mifugo Ni Mali caught our attention and we took note. We pitched the idea to the board and a resolution was passed to engage this programme courtesy of KCB Foundation.
Star Journalist: What was the process of engagement?
John: Well. The ranch has been banking with KCB since it started so it was easy to leverage our relationship to schedule a meeting at the KCB Bank Branch in Voi. On visiting the bank, we were met by the branch manager. The interest was mutual. He informed us that Mifugo Ni Mali was a perfect fit and that this should be a valuable engagement. We also discovered that several ranches out of the 18 that exist in Taita Taveta had applied to partner with KCB Foundation and we were keen to get on board. This was the process of beginning the engagement. It happened in 2018 and we invited them to visit the ranch in order to see it for themselves and to evaluate whether we should form a partnership.
Star Journalist: Was the partnership established immediately?
John: We had been taking loans from KCB Bank in the past. However, this programme had a difference. After a good round of careful evaluations, we formed a partnership in 2019. KCB Foundation advanced to us a grant of Ksh1 million, with the focus on improvement of the ranch's facilities. This infrastructure loan was well guided because it involved government extension officers who were availed to oversee our commitment.
Star Journalist: What was the resultant progress?
John: Because we were guided, we quickly became more knowledgeable and intentional in our business. We implemented processes and procedures and improved our workings. Thereafter, we took a loan of Ksh10 million to fatten our bulls. We upgraded our feeding facilities and stores and KCB Foundation helped us to market and sell our cattle. This progress has been remarkable. We repaid the loan and we have taken another KSh10 million loan this year to continue with improving and expanding our business.
Star Journalist: Sounds like you've got great plans for the future, right?
John: Yes, we do. 2020 has been disruptive in all ways and majorly, our movements were restricted. We implemented protocols to ensure our working environments were safe inasmuch as we are improving our processes. Plans are underway to do dairy farming to run hand in hand with fattening our bulls. We also want to do farming and this is going to be interesting as KCB Foundation will still be keen to support Lualenyi Ranch. In addition, we are planning to extend our service to the community by helping needy students go back to school in January.
Star Journalist: As we conclude, what challenges have you faced at Lualenyi Ranch?
John: Lualenyi Ranch is part of the LUMO Community Wildlife Sanctuary and this is formed by Lualenyi Ranch, Mramba Communal Grazing Area and Oza Group Ranch (hence the acronym "LUMO"). This sanctuary is adjacent to Tsavo West National Park and the Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary and hosts buffaloes, elephants, leopards, lions, giraffes, zebras, hartebeests, impalas, waterbucks, Thomson's gazelles, lesser kudus, dik-diks and other smaller animals, including a great diversity of birdlife. The border is as porous as it is invisible. We do not interfere with nature. This presents a challenge with wildlife as sometimes the animals go astray. However, this is minimized now as we've learned the patterns and behaviours of both domestic and wild animals. Part of the loan from the KCB Foundation will be used to extending our electric fence to enhance our safety while demarcating land that we would like to do farming and dairy.