Turkana livestock keepers count gains of auction yards

Pastoralists in Turkana County have formed a marketing association that has seen them get higher returns from sale of livestock.

The Livestock Marketing Association organises auctions on behalf of the pastoralists which have attracted buyers from as far as Mombasa, Kenya Meat Commission, Dagoreti and Kiamaiko markets in Nairobi.

“The pastoralists are registering booming business as their animals attract good prices unlike in the past when they sold them at throwaway prices or they died out of drought,” said Joseph Losuru Esinyen, the County Livestock Marketing Council chairman which regulates the Turkana association.

The project accountant David Onchiri said pastoralists are earning up to Sh130,000 each during peak seasons as traders flock the Lodwar auction yard to buy goats, sheep and camels.

Livestock keepers can also get loans to buy more animals. The association received a grant of Sh6.5 million from American Development Agency-United States African Development Foundation.

“Lodwar was allocated Sh1.69 million and another Sh1 million to Lokichar group and eligible members can receive between Sh15,000 to Sh50,000 repayable within four months,” said Bernard Iria Lomali, the council’s project coordinator.

Mr Lomali said that humanitarian agencies involved in re-stocking exercise also buy animals from the auction yards before distributing them to deserving families.

“The animals are graded according to their quality with a pedigree goat going at about Sh7,000 up from Sh2,500 before the marketing association was introduced,” said David Kaikir, Lodwar Livestock Marketing Association Chairman.

He said the introduction of modernised sale yards has benefited other business people.

“Women and youth groups plant fodder along River Turkwel that they sell to the traders. This has reduced poverty levels,” said Mr Esinyen.

He said the association has constructed more animal auction yard in Kakuma, Lopur, Kaobeyei and Lokichoggio to enable pastoralists in the county to sell their animals at attractive rates.

The marketing association also trains the pastoralists on ways to diversify to other income-generating activities.