Originally published on December 19, 2017.
This is the third in a three-part blog series which features successes and lessons learned of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Kenya Semi-Arid Livestock Enhancement (K-SALES) program. This Food for Progress initiative focused on livestock programing in semi-arid regions in Kenya. Read Part One here. Read Part Two here.
Where is the potential in livestock farming? “Value addition,” says Dr. Sam. “It requires two elements to come together – supply of quality products, and connecting producers, traders at local, regional, country-wide levels with products and with each other,” he says. The value of animals can be looked at for not only meat, but also the value of their output (milk, eggs, etc.), hides, skin and horns. “When the animal is better valued, this translates into income not only for the farmers, but also for butchers, business owners and consumers,” says Dr. Sam.
Here are some examples of how K-SALES has put these approaches into practice:
Not long ago, horns and bones were considered waste in semi-arid regions of Kenya. Handicrafts were mostly made of wood or stone. Today, with a partnership from K-SALES and Bemos Craft Developers, members of the Wamunyu Handicraft Cooperative are using bones and horns.
After a five-day training on semi-processing (cleaning, preserving, cutting and trimming) of livestock bone and horns, Wamunyu members are now creating pendants, buttons for winter jackets and bracelets to sell in local and regional markets. In 2016, the cooperative expanded their market and began exporting products to US and UK.
With the expanding markets, improved skill of the craftsmen and better equipment, this trade presents a new frontier for wider scale job creation and household self-sustenance. The County Government that has made plans to incorporate jewelry making vocational training in the village polytechnics schools.
K-SALES also worked with a youth group on building their capacity of modern leather tanning. The project supported the group by building a mini tannery and providing equipment like sewing machines and leather working tools. From this intervention, the group has increased their production by 43 percent with high quality products, including shoes, belts, wallets, phone casing, sandals and Kiondos. These are mainly sold in local markets. Just eight months after this partnership was established, the group has increased their sales by 30 percent.
Quality meat processing facilities & supermarkets
By offering training to farmers, traders and butchers; upgrading meat processing facilities; and improving hygiene in slaughter and handling of meat, K-SALES meat processing partners have seen improvements in meat quality. As a result, they have seen an increase in demand for meat from the local supermarkets as well as other meat outlets in major centers, such as Nairobi.
After processors reached improved standards, the project supported these businesses by connecting them to supermarkets.
Streamlining input and service supply system:
Access to quality inputs and services for livestock production has been a major impediment to increasing productivity and trade in the livestock sector. K-SALES targeted veterinary input suppliers and business service providers to train them on business skills and link them to farmers as a way of improving farmer access to inputs and promoting trade amongst the BSPs.
In Tharaka Nithi County, K-SALES efforts to streamline the input and service supply system has contributed to improved health of livestock, improved quality of meat and milk as well as an increase in the affordability of the products and services among farmers.
K-SALES has supported over 8,000 enterprises like these, seeing the businesses improve sales and increase commerce across the meat value chain.
As Dr. Sam has stated at the beginning of this piece, it is about the “two elements:” quality products and connecting producers across the value chain – whether it be a supermarket, a meat processing facility, input supply services or tanning leather facilities. The trade connections are where the USDA K-SALES intervention has made a lasting impact.