I have increasingly received enquiries on how to sell animals outside Kenya in the last few days.
Some of the enquiries have come from ordinary farmers who have high quality animals, and want to sell to their colleagues in the neighbouring countries.
Majority of the enquiries, however, have come from livestock traders or agribusiness service providers who get enquiries from other countries. The most traded livestock are cows, sheep, goats and pigs.
Animals are exported for slaughter, breeding, milk and meat production. I have never heard of a case of import for manure production or leisure perhaps because the two are livestock by-products which few people take notice of or assign them monetary value.
From Kenya, livestock is exported mainly to neighbours Uganda, Tanzania and Somalia, and to Mauritius and the Middle Eastern countries.
Export does not include the cross-border movement of animals as happened with the Kenyan Maasai cattle that was seized and auctioned by the Tanzanian government last week.
Kenya does not export livestock to Europe, the Americas, Australia and New Zealand primarily because the country does not adequately comply with the disease control requirements of the nations and the global standards as set out by the World Animal Health Organisation in its binding Terrestrial Animal Health Code.
This code is a global reference document that should be used by veterinary authorities in each country, import/export services, scientists who study disease in populations (epidemiologists) and all those involved in international trade in animal and animal products.
The aim is to control animal diseases, diseases spread between animals and humans and to ensure food safety.
There is increasing interest in exportation of Kenyan livestock and livestock products to the Arabian Gulf countries.
RISE IN DEMAND
This is driven by the rise in demand for animal products in the region and the increasing cost of buying livestock products from the traditional sources of Europe, the Americas, Australia and New Zealand.
In addition, the demand for foods of animal origin in the traditional source markets has risen due to population increase.
It is estimated that the demand for livestock products in the world will more than double by 2030 due to increased human population and the increase in the size of the middle class, who have the capacity to buy livestock products mainly meat, milk and eggs.
As demand rises, the land available for livestock production is decreasing due to human settlement.
All these changes mean that consumers of large quantities of livestock products like the Arabian Gulf countries must look for sources of livestock and livestock products closer home to cut on the cost of acquiring the products.
That requirement places Kenya and other African countries in an advantageous position to trade in livestock and livestock products with the Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and United Arab Emirates.
Kenya is favoured as a livestock supplier to other African countries except South Africa, Botswana and Namibia because of its relatively advanced livestock farming.
But what does it take to export your animals for whatever goal? The farmer must first understand that animals for the export market require high standards of production.
The animals must first and foremost be well-identified and their lives can be traced from birth to the point of export.
The animals must have good records kept for their breeding, treatment, performance, vaccination to prevent diseases and how they have been managed.
Animals that have been kept in stressful conditions are not acceptable for the export market.
Finally, there must be clear records certifying the animals to be free of any disease.
The process of exporting livestock is complex and expensive.
In fact, the final price of the animal at the point of destination is the sum total of expenses of several intermediate steps.
ISOLATION OF EXPORT ANIMALS FROM OTHERS
For the small farmer, the easiest way to export the animal is to deal with the export trader a majority who bulk before exporting as doing the process on your own is expensive.
The first step in the process is for the export trader to source the market for the animals.
The trader is then given the conditions of exporting livestock to the destination country by the veterinary authorities of that nation.
The conditions are contained in an import permit issued by the importing country.
An import permit is valid for 90 days and only for the consignment it is issued for.
The type, number and source of the animals to be imported are specified in the import permit.
After receiving the import permit, the export trader then sources from farmers the specific animals to be exported.
In all cases, animals will be required to undergo disease tests specified in the import permit.
The exporter will ensure that all the animals are individually tested by a certified laboratory and found to be free of disease.
If quarantine for the animals is required, the exporter will ensure the animals are quarantined for the specified period.
Quarantine is the isolation of the export animals from all others in an area free of any trade-sensitive disease.
On completion of the quarantine, usually 30 to 90 days, the animals are examined and issued with an International Health Certificate (IHC) by a veterinary doctor certified by the Kenya Veterinary Board (KVB).
The export trader then presents the IHC, import permit and the laboratory test results to an export/import documentation service provider approved by the Director of Veterinary Services to apply for an International Veterinary Certificate (IVC) which serves as the import permit for the livestock consignment.
The IVC is only issued online using the Government of Kenya Single Window System managed by the Kenya Trade Network Agency (Kentrade).
Once issued, the IVC is valid for 14 days and must be accompanied by an IHC.
The IHC must not be more than 48 hours old from the date of issue when presented at the port of departure of the animals from Kenya.
The 48 hours rule is based on the fact that animals incubating a disease may show signs of illness within 48 hours of examination.
The IVC, import permit, IHC, laboratory results and the import permit must accompany the animals until cleared to enter their destination country.
All the five documents must also be endorsed by the state veterinary officer at the port of departure of the animals.
Farmers need to know that they do not have to be large-scale producers to sell animals for export.
However, they must adhere to appropriate standards of livestock farming to comply with the components of the Terrestrial Code.
The standards can be achieved with assistance of veterinary doctors registered by the Kenya Veterinary Board.
However, the government must play the role of facilitating the livestock farmer to produce for the export market either for livestock or livestock products.
The work of the government is to ensure the farmer is well sensitised to the requirements of the export market by providing good extension, disease control and livestock identification and traceability services.
Additionally, the government must ensure that the country complies adequately with the World Animal Health Organisation Terrestrial Code.
To attain and sustain the standards envisioned in the Terrestrial Animal Code, the government should ensure there is very good coordination, cooperation and collaboration between the livestock farmers, public service and private animal health service providers as well as the local and export livestock traders.