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Assessing actors in rural markets of sheep and goats in the Nyando Basin of Western Kenya: a key to improving productivity from smallholder farms

Ojango, Julie M. K., Audho, James, Oyieng, Edwin, Radeny, Maren, Kimeli, Philip, Recha, John, Muigai, Anne W. T.
Tropical animal health and production 2018 v.50 no.8 pp. 1871-1879
basins, breeding, climate, farmers, goats, income, issues and policy, livelihood, livestock production, men, producer prices, production technology, rural communities, sheep, sheep breeds, small farms, supply chain, villages, Kenya
Livestock traders are a key conduit for incentives in livestock production systems. Their actions affect producer prices, investment decisions, and their livelihoods. However, smallholder farmers in rural communities of eastern Africa often have limited understanding of the marketing process and the interactions among market actors. This study was undertaken following the introduction of improved indigenous goat and sheep breeds in Climate Smart Villages of Nyando in western Kenya. We sought to understand the marketing of sheep and goats in five key rural markets used by the smallholder farmers of Nyando, to generate information on key market actors, their functions in the value chain, and their preferences for attributes in sheep and goats. Most traders (65%) in all the markets were men. Four different types of traders operated in the markets, producers, retailers, wholesalers, and brokers, each making a profit. Preference for selling sheep or goats and the animal attributes desired by the traders differed depending on the surrounding community. Markets in Kericho County of Nyando traded more goats than sheep while those in Kisumu County of Nyando traded more sheep than goats. There were no clear policies guiding pricing of animals. Prices offered to producers depended on previous days, and the number of animals available for sale at the marketing point. The collaborative group actions of the producers in the Climate Smart Villages did not extend beyond the level of production to the marketing of their livestock. A critical change is required for the smallholder farmers to derive better incomes from improved quality of animals following adoption of improved breeding and management practices. The results illustrate the need to engage rural market actors when implementing livestock improvement programs for smallholder farmers for better farm gate prices of animals, and thus achieve the improved incomes envisioned.