Unlocking the Potential of Livestock Farming in Narok County: A Path to Financial Empowerment

Imagine owning almost a thousand heads of cows and when you approach a financial institution for a loan you are denied or asked for your title deed as security or collateral. This happens despite the fact that the loan you want is less than the actual value of your cows. Well, this is the scenario that plays out daily in Narok County which has about 1.5 million heads of cattle.

Regardless of the big numbers, livestock farmers in the county are still undergoing various challenges which formed the subject of discussion by various stakeholders in the livestock sector. This discussion was led by the County government of Narok and Imfuyo (formally known as Lofte Kesho) in 2021. Imfuyo is a data company which specializes in modern animal identification and valuation, it aims Imfuyo aims to collect and compile data on livestock farming to help farmers, nutritionists, vet officers and other players in the livestock industry track production cycles. It also assists banks and insurance companies to design products for the farmers. Our main driver is a tamper-proof tag placed within the ear of the cow. We also do cow valuation which enables the farmer to know the value of the cows in his possession.

Dr. David ole Letuati, the former Agriculture Chief Officer in 2021, (left) and Saitoti Saaya, the former Director of Veterinary Services in 2021, pictured during a meeting

Dr. David ole Letuati, the former Agriculture Chief Officer in Narok County(2021), said the immediate benefit of the smart ear tag will be solving the problem of damaged skins due to the markings by farmers. Most farmers put permanent marks on their animals’ skins for easy identification.  “The same has affected the value of the skin, so when we sell our skins, we get the third grade which is sold at a throw-away price. So if we move from marking our cows on the skin to ear tagging, it will be great move and we really applaud it,” said Dr. ole Letuati.

Bernard Njathi, the Chief Executive Officer of Imfuyo said the main aim of the meeting was to agree on the modalities of empowering the farmers beginning with animal identification. Animal identification makes it easy for the farmer to keep records of their cows’ performance and also financial records of their livestock farming venture, something that has been lacking in the county.

“Most of our farmers do not bank their money or use mobile money services. During market days they deal with cash and when they want to acquire a loan from the bank they don’t have a financial statement to prove that they are credit score,” said the Chief Officer during the 2021 discussions in Narok county“ I want to encourage our livestock keepers and traders to use banking and Mpesa services so that they can have statements to produce when they want loans from banks and other financial institutions,” he added.

Njathi said the meeting was important as farmers will be able to benefit from the services as they had partnered with various stakeholders to achieve that. “We have had a beautiful and amazing meeting with the County Government and our partners APA Insurance and Kenya Livestock Breeders Association (KLBA),” he said.

The CEO said apart from identification, farmers will have a valuation conducted on their cows enabling them to have them insured. Getting insurance for the cows will automatically enable the farmers to use them  as security when they need loans, something that had been tricky in the previously.

“We have so many animals dying because of drought and farmers incur huge losses as they are not insured. Now we will have them compensated in case of drought and other natural calamities when they insure them and later use them as collateral to get funds,” opined Dr.Ole Letuati.

Bernard Njathi, the CEO of Imfuyo

Leonard Mukhembi,  the CEO of Kenya Livestock Breeders Association (KLBA) said keeping records had been a challenge to farmers. “This is why KLBA is working with partners who are keen to ensure that we have data that is well collected, accurate and well organized digitally in a manner that can  be accessed by farmers whenever feedback is required,” he said.

The stakeholders that were present agreed that there is huge potential among the livestock keepers in the county and that the programme wouldl go a long way in unlocking that potential. This was put into context by a bank official- “When I arrived in Narok, a farmer who wanted a loan took me to see his cows and they were deep in the forest. I wondered how this would work with the animals in the forest but eventually, I learned that these farmers always know where their animals are. I was also amazed by the number of the cows he had and this gave me the confidence to deal with him”

Leonard Mukhembi the CEO of Kenya Livestock Breeders Association (KLBA) makes a presentation

Jacob Lempaka, a farmer from Narok East who attended the meeting said he learned a lot from the discussion. “Learning that I can use my cows as a collateral without being asked for a title deed is a game-changer for me. I was also happy to know that if I am selling milk and the money passes through my bank account, I will be able to get credit using the milk and this is encouraging,” he quipped.   

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