Meat lovers beware: Why you are likely to miss this choice delicacy

Most of the livestock for slaughter in these counties and beyond are sourced from the pastoral communities in the northern Kenya region, including Turkana, West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet counties.

President William Ruto declared war against animal rustlers in the volatile pastoral counties, which has witnessed killings and thousands of stock stolen in the decades long attack and counter-attacks by warring communities.

Border regions such as Turkwel, Ombolion and Kanyerus which mark the boundary to Turkana and West Pokot counties and Tot, Chesegon along the West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet counties have been the worst hit by menace.

Some butchers have already adjusted their digital weighing scales to slightly increase the cost of a kilogram of meat by a few cents, claiming to cushion themselves from an imminent period of loss-making.

"We are aware that most of the meat we buy from the abattoirs are from livestock sourced from our neighbouring West Pokot and Turkana counties and believe the trickle-down effect of the military operations in the areas will soon hit us and the slight adjustments you realize is just a way to cushion ourselves from the imminent shortage of supplies," said John Thuo, a butcher at Kitale's Laini Moja street.

According to the chairperson of slaughterhouses in the county, Joseph Lamai, abattoirs across the county expect a shortage of livestock supplies from next week.

He pointed out that most livestock dealers have shied off from going to the livestock yard markets to buy stock for fear they might be caught up in the operations front.

Lamai said most livestock markets are in West Pokot markets where the forces are likely to extend their operations and traders had thus taken a break from visiting such areas.

He said goats are often sourced from the Kainuk border area between West Pokot and Turkana with another big market for the same at Chesegon close to the West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet counties border.

"We expect to face difficulties from next week as most people have not gone to the markets, especially this week. Last week, livestock dealers who anticipated this however took larger stocks and this could bridge the deficit for at least a few more days," said Lamai.

In a month, he disclosed that Lamai the two main abattoirs at Machinjoni in Mitume, Matisi in Kitale town outskirts and others in five sub counties slaughter an average of 2,000 cows, 3,000 sheep and 5,000 goats.

Other slaughterhouses in Trans Nzoia are at Maili Saba, Sibanga, Kiminini, Endebbess and Center Kwanza which also contribute to the general county's meat supply, and they are also likely to be hard hit with the retrained stock movements.

The slaughterhouse chairman advised butchers and abattoir operators to seek alternatives from markets in Western regions in the event of a shortfall from the northern regions.

Lamai expounded that peddlers who move to the interior areas of the pastoral communities to buy livestock and take to the markets where they sell to larger enterprises can not move freely owing to the KDF and police operations in the areas.

"We have peddlers who go deep into the manyattas to buy stock and take to the yards, since large scale stock buyers do not source their animals from the interior parts. Now these peddlers can not move around with stock due to the military operation," he pointed out.

In terms of revenue, said Lamai, the county is bound to lose much, citing that for movement of stock, a levy of Sh100 is charged for each cattle and Sh200 charged for each cattle to be slaughtered.

Movement of a single goat costs Sh50 while its slaughter attracts a levy of Sh70, prices which are equivalent to the levies for movement and slaughtering of goats respectively.

Going by the numbers, the county could lose at least Sh3 million in revenue every month for the period of the military operation in the north if livestock sourced from local farmers account for two percent of the animals slaughtered in the period.

Dealers in hides and skins will also be affected since there will also be a shortage in the supply, while also the police would be keen to know the source of their wares as a way of averting stock theft.

Meat lovers will be forced to look for alternatives, with traders in white meat from fish and chicken expected to make a boom in the period.

"With this trend, I am afraid that some people will trade in illegal meat such as that from wild animals to fill the void and I would rather eat fish or chicken," observed Linda Kemuma, a worker at a spare parts shop in Kitale.

She hence appealed to Public Health officers to be more vigilant, citing that there had been a trend by some people selling wild meat to unsuspecting clients.