• A study conducted in Kitui found that up to 1,000 cattle move from market to market daily as traders seek better prices, leading to a loss of 20 kilos of weight in each animal.
• Governor Charity Ngilu’s administration says the initiative will ensure a high quality of local livestock meat and put money in the pockets of traders.
About 1,400 cattle traders in Kitui will be able to ferry their animals to the market faster using five trucks acquired by the county government.
Livestock experts say the programme could help save up to Sh3 billion lost annually due to reduction of body weight as animal walk long distances.
A study conducted in Kitui found that up to 1,000 cattle move from market to market daily as traders seek better prices, leading to a loss of 20 kilos of weight in each animal.
Governor Charity Ngilu’s administration says the initiative will ensure a high quality of local livestock meat and put money in the pockets of traders.
Trade executive Esther Kilonzi said on Wednesday that five trucks have been bought and are being branded for use by the end of June.
She said the Kitui Livestock Traders Association was consulted before the project was rolled out.
“The purpose of the livestock trucks is to ensure that livestock traders do not lose money by making their cattle and goats walk long distances from market to market. Sh3 billion is lost from the walking of animals from market to market,” Kilonzi said.
The Kitui livestock study put the cost of every kilo of animal weight lost at Sh30 million in a month.
Kilonzi said livestock traders are presently forced to hire trucks at exorbitant prices or opt to walk the animals to markets.
She said the county government will now hire out the livestock trucks to the traders at subsidised rates.
“Anytime an animal is subjected to stress, the meat becomes quite acidic because they produce adrenaline and when the animal is slaughtered the appearance of the meat is not appealing as it becomes really red, tough and without flavour,” Kilonzi said.
She said the low value meat contributes to butchers losing revenue as customers shun meat that is not of good quality.
“Kitui has about 1,400 livestock traders. If everybody is losing a shilling here and there, these are people who have experienced a lot of losses. We agreed we want to empower these people and we therefore acquired the trucks,” Kilonzi said.
She was upbeat about the success of the programme, as livestock traders' cooperatives societies will help lease the trucks.
“We know this will be a game changer. The county department of agriculture and livestock is also helping farmers improve the quality of the livestock breeds,” she added.
“We have done quite a bit on artificial insemination and we are also training farmers on good animal husbandry and immunisation,” she said.
The executive said livestock farmers were also being trained on quality and high animal productivity.
(edited by o. owino)