Leaders from 14 pastoralist counties have urged the national government to privatise the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC), saying such a move would help revive it.
The leaders have urged officials to immediately start identifying a strategic investor to inject adequate funding into the company.
Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow, the president of the Pastoralist Leaders Summit, said the investor would secure and establish a market for livestock particularly from the pastoralists regions.
The leaders also want the government to develop a livestock and beef trade export strategy.
Senator Kerrow said KMC was shut down then reopened recently but it had never been fully revived due to lack of funds.
SOURCE OF LIVELIHOOD
“Livestock contributes to 13 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and is the main source of livelihood for pastoralists,” he said.
On Saturday, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed that an independent livestock marketing authority be created immediately to revive the livestock sector.
More than 70 political leaders who attended the summit said exploiting livestock market opportunities for export in their counties was a challenge to the pastoralists.
The leaders said the two slaughterhouse locations in Mombasa and Nairobi pose a challenge since most pastoralists live in northern Kenya and the Rift Valley regions.
Lack of market, high transport costs to the main slaughterhouses and long droughts were blamed for the industry's failure in pastoralist regions.
As a result, most northern counties have resorted to establishing their own abattoirs to supplement KMC.
North Hoor MP Chacha Ganya said Kenya was losing a lot of revenue to Ethiopia since pastoralists from Marsabit and other counties have opted to sell their livestock to the neighbouring country.
“KMC has not done well in transforming the lives of pastoralists since its location is far from livestock keepers,” said Mr Ganya.
He blamed the government for not doing enough to help pastoralists, claiming that the Kariobangi and Dandora livestock markets were controlled by middlemen and brokers.
The MP noted that Kenya has the best infrastructure but lack of a market for their produce was forcing pastoralists to cross borders because of better prices.