Livestock farmers in Baringo are set to benefit from the construction of a multimillion shilling tannery in the area.
The project started six years ago through the economic stimulus programme had stalled and its expected completion would be good news to local farmers whose economic mainstay is animal husbandry.
According to Livestock and Fisheries permanent secretary Fred Segor who toured the tannery, construction of the Mogotio plant has so far cost Sh9 million with Sh16 million worth of equipment.
Prof Segor said the tanning industry would raise incomes. Farmers currently sell goats and sheep skins for Sh50 and cow’s hide at between Sh80 and Sh100 depending on size.
“This amount is too little for a farmer who struggles to feed the animals. We want farmers to reap maximum returns from the livestock sector, which is contributing 12 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product,” said Prof Segor.
The cattle population in Baringo is estimated at 900,000, with 500,000 goats and 400,000 sheep.
Prof Segor said the county, which is the second-largest producer of beef products after Turkana, could supply adequate raw materials to the leather industry.
Kenya Leather Development Council managing director Haron Mwangi said more revenue is generated from hides and skins than from meat.
“This is because leather is an international commodity. Kenya should make the hides and skins a flagship commodity followed by meat,” he said.
Baringo has injected Sh5 million into the tanning industry which is expected to cater for fencing, electricity and other infrastructure. Apart from the sale of hides and skins, the industry would create more than 200 jobs.
Prof Segor called on herders in arid areas to put in place measures to cushion them from losses linked to drought.
“Time has come for our pastoralists to be pro-active and store hay to feed their livestock during the dry season and dispose of the emaciated ones to avoid losses due to a lack of pasture,” he said.