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by Silvia Sperandini and Elaine Reinke

If you want to understand the livestock value chain, just follow the cow!”, is the first thing that the “Ruteros” learned once we arrived in Kenya. By now, following the cow, we have reached the terminal market of Kiseria, south-eastern Kenya, where the Keekenyokie slaughterhouse is located and where the livestock value chain ends and the meat value chain starts.

During this journey we met various actors of the livestock chain from pastoralists and agro-pastoralists at village level (producers) to different types of traders which include: primary itinerant traders who move cattle from producers to primary markets, middle level traders who sell cattle into secondary and terminal markets, middlemen who operate as brokers, mainly at the market, taking animals from producers, itinerant traders and middle level traders, and negotiating with buyers and transporters.

Interacting with them we learned the tips and tricks of grading systems and pricing mechanisms but also understood that all these actors along the chain face a variety of challenges. Frequent drought periods cause market fluctuation and massive depreciation of stock. High incidences of livestock diseases and pests affect production as well as trading due to frequent quarantine. Poor market infrastructure and absence of organized facilities (feeding, water, vet services, troughs etc.) put animals and humans at risk. Limited capital and scarce access to credit affecting the production as well as trading. Limited livestock transportation mechanisms and continued moving on the hoof to markets affects quality of stock.

Kiseria is the most vibrant pastoralist-managed livestock market in Kenya and the Keekonyokie slaughterhouse is more than an abattoir. It is the gateway to the urban market and offers business opportunities to the pastoral Maasai communities located in southern Kenya and Tanzania. It is an innovative business enterprise that was established by Maasai pastoralist groups controlling the slaughterhouse management to the benefit of their communities.

The most innovative aspect of the business was found to be the IFAD-supported biogas plant to convert slaughterhouse waste into energy and bio fertilizer, reducing the environmental impact linked to its business activity. The company uses the biogas produced to generate electrical power for the meat cold room, processing equipment and heating water for cleaning the abattoir.

The Keekenyokie community has strong ambitions for the future of their slaughterhouse. Apart from expanding the facilities for slaughter, meat processing and biogas generation and storage, the business seeks to improve its hygiene and sanitation in order to meet quality standards for the export market. Packaging meat products with the Keekenyokie branding and selling them directly to supermarkets will further require additional capital to purchase machinery and training on using technical facilities. But the main innovation they would like to introduce is packaging and selling biogas to rural and peri-urban consumers.

The “Ruteros” were particularly impressed with the initiative and business-orientation of the Keekenyokie community, the effective integration of the value chain, as well as the biogas innovation, and gave a wealth of constructive recommendations to their hosts.

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