Kenya has secured new beef and livestock markets in Libya, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Malaysia, opening a new income stream for pastoralists hard hit by recurrent drought and livestock diseases.
The Kenya Livestock Marketing Council (KLMC) said the new markets present a major opportunity for both pastoralists and ranchers.
Exporters are buying from pastoralists to meet rising demand which ranchers are unable to meet.
“We have new markets in Libya, DRC and Malaysia and are waiting to confirm orders from those countries,” said KLMC chairman Abass Mohammed.
Livestock Development minister Mohammed Kuti earlier announced Iran’s intention to venture into local livestock products processing for purpose of serving the export market.
Kenya recently secured an export deal to Egypt, where 10 tonnes of beef are exported every week.
The country is also exporting up to eight tonnes of mutton to Qatar and Dubai weekly.
Between March and July, Kenya exported 4,950 cattle to Mauritius, according to statics provided by KLMC.
The growing market has already raised the price of livestock for export.
The farm gate price of cattle for export has increased from lows of Sh70 per kilogramme mid last year to Sh92 per kilogramme today.
The export price for cattle has increased from Sh110 per kilogramme mid-last year to between Sh150 and Sh210 today, depending on the destined market.
Lack of adequate slaughterhouses that meet international standards and the absence disease free zones could, however, slow the growth of exports for livestock and processed beef.
Although the Livestock Development ministry was allocated Sh150 million to finance construction of modern slaughterhouses for export beef, players in the industry said the amount is too little.
“What the industry has decided is that the money should be used to construct one or two slaughterhouses that meet international standards and make additions when more funds are available,” said Mr Mohammed.
In this year’s budget, Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta also provided Sh200 million to go towards an electronic tagging project in Northern Kenya that will help in the creation of disease free zones and livestock identification.
Failure to create disease free zones has cost the country loss beef export quota of up to 400,000 tonnes per year to the European Union.
The quota was awarded to Botswana. As a result, the marketing outlet for Kenya’s small scale beef cattle farmers has decreased tremendously with farmers losing revenues.
With the use of tracing devices, carcasses in slaughterhouses or even packaged meat found to be contaminated with livestock diseases will be traced back to the source.
Kenya’s main slaughterhouse at the Athi River based Kenya Meat Commission is set for privatisation to help it increase its output and efficiency and enable the country meet demand of an expanding export market.
KMC has potential to handle 40 tonnes of meat weekly, but only manages 10 tonnes.
In an earlier interview, Kenya’s head of veterinary services Peter Ithondeka said the county was deepening its market presence in the Middle East as its core export market.
He said “very high standards” demanded by the European Union market had created an unfair business environment for Kenyan beef.
“The EU keeps on shifting goal posts on hygiene and disease standards, so we are looking to the Middle East. But this does not mean that disease and hygiene challenges will not be addressed at the KMC,” said Dr Ithondeka, who also sits on the firm’s board.
Kenya has previously relied on the EU as its top processed beef market.
At one time in the 1970s, about 66 per cent of canned beef consumed in the EU was produced by KMC.
In Kenya, cattle constitute the major source of red meat, but sheep and goats (often referred to as “shoats”) are also an important sub-component of the sector.
Camels’ contribution is relatively minor, at about two per cent of total red meat and offal production.
Assessments show that the supply of red-meat from domestic cattle, goats and camels falls well short of demand, and that the supply is permanently augmented by a traditional livestock trade drawn in from neighbouring countries, especially Somalia, Tanzania, Sudan and Ethiopia.