Traders reap big from selling hay in drought-stricken Samburu

One of the lorries transporting hay to Maralal
One of the lorries transporting hay to Maralal on January 30, 2017. Traders in Samburu have capitalised on the ongoing drought in the region and reaping huge profits from the sale of hay to pastoralists. PHOTO | GODFREY OUNDOH | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Traders in Samburu are capitalising on the current drought to reap big profits by selling hay to pastoralists.

The suppliers have come in handy for pastoralists desperate to feed their starving livestock and who can afford to buy the hay.

For more than three months now, pastoralists have been traversing the vast Samburu and neighbouring counties in search of water and pasture for their animals.

Shop owners have quickly diversified their trade to cash in on the situation.

In Maralal, they have stocked hundreds of bags of hay which they are selling to pastoralists in and outside the town.

Lucy Gathoni, a trader in the town, told the Business Daily that she has received clients from remote parts of Samburu North, Samburu East and Samburu Central.

"Currently we are receiving orders from as far as Baragoi, Suyan, Wamba, Soradoru, Loosuk, Kisima and Suguta Marmar which are then sent to various customers for their livestock and calves,” she said in an interview.

Sh350 a bale

A bale of hay is selling at Sh 350. However, some shop owners have taken advantage of the situation, hiking the price to as high as Sh 400.

Most clients use lorries, Land Rover vans and minibuses ferrying people to various destinations to transport their stock.

Bodaboda (motorcycle) operators have not been left behind, coming in handy to offer transportation services to various destinations.

"In a day I can transport around 80 bales to various areas in Maralal and its environs depending on the orders I'm given. Sometimes this is dependent on the number of livestock someone has,” one of the operators, Mr Simon Wambugu told the Business Daily.

On Monday, the Business Daily met Mr Wilson Kipkorir, a truck driver who had travelled for 651 kilometres from Eldoret to deliver hay stock to businesses in Maralal.

He disclosed that he makes around three to four trips to the county every week.

"Demand has gone high and a number of businessmen have travelled from Nyahururu, Nakuru and Nairobi are now engaging in the business, we have several lorries making several trips to Maralal,” he said.

Eldoret and other parts of Rift Valley counties are said to be among the leading suppliers of hay in northern Kenya.