New abattoir set to boost livestock farmers’ profits
Hundreds of livestock farmers from the semi-arid Kieni area of Nyeri County will soon have a ready market for their livestock.
This follows a project to build a multi-million shilling slaughterhouse meant to serve livestock farmers and meat buyers in the larger Nyeri County.
The neighbouring Laikipia County will also benefit from the abattoir, which is expected to create jobs and meet the high demand for meat in the country.
The government is funding the Sh16.5 million project through the Economic Stimulus Programme.
According to provincial veterinary officer in charge of Central Province Evans Muthuma, the slaughterhouse will handle 50 cattle, 100 sheep and goats a day.
“The facility is being built on an eight-acre piece of land at Mureru village in Naru Moru in Kieni. It would also have a small dam to provide drinking water to animals awaiting to be slaughtered,” said Dr Muthuma.
For many years, most of livestock keepers in Kieni and Laikipia have been forced to spend heavily to transport their livestock to Nairobi for slaughter while others sell theirs animals to brokers at low prices due to lack of an abattoir in the region.
“This is a milestone and a relieve to many livestock farmers, we hope it will be completed on time so that we could start selling our animals,” says Mr Johnstone Orwe, a farmer from Laikipia East.
Mr Orwe, who rears both dairy and beef cattle says that during a drought, it is difficult for them to get good prices for their livestock and brokers take advantage of the situation to fleece them.
Stephen Munyiri, a farmer from Kieni, is also excited over the project.
Mr Munyiri, who owns 48 sheep and 29 cows says that he lost more than 13 sheep and 16 cows to a biting drought in January last year.
He says that he had bought hay for his animals, but the drought extended and all his stock ran dry.
Mr Munyiri says that was forced to transport some of his animals to Kenya Meat Commission where the government was buying each cow at Sh8,000 but four died on the way.
“I had to sell the remaining weak animals to brokers who bought them at a very low price of between Sh2,500 and Sh3,000,” says Mr Munyiri. “I sold them off at a throwaway price since I had nowhere to take them."
Once the abattoir project is completed, says Dr Muthuma, livestock farmers will no longer incur the high costs of transporting meat to Nairobi.
The modern slaughterhouse is similar to others built in Murang’a, Thika and Naivasha. The contractor, UH Developers, was expected to complete the project within 20 weeks.
Already the company has covered 10 weeks. UH Developers director Peter Mahu expressed his optimism that he would meet the deadline.
“I have been provided all the money needed for this job and from the look of things, I will be able to finish within the scheduled time,” says Mr Mahu.
The abattoir will also have a refrigerated chiller for storing meat before it is transported to the market.
One of the long-standing challenges livestock farmers in the area have had to contend with is lack of meat preservation facilities like refrigerators.
The provincial veterinary officer said that butchery operators without refrigerators would charged a fee to store their meat at the facility.
The money raised from services that the slaughterhouse plans to offer would be used to maintain the facility, adds Dr Muthuma.
“Such abattoirs will ease congestion at the Kenya Meat Commission more so during the dry season when the government is forced to buy weak animals from farmers to cushion them against incurring great loses,” says Dr Muthuma.
One of the benefits of the abattoirs to the local communities could be to provide clean energy to the households in the area through conversion of the animal wastes into biogas, which many farmers in the vicinity believe could come in handy and help them cut costs for their fuel needs.