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Access to information helps Dorper sheep farmer avert 60 per cent loss in sales

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Part of Kiprono’s Dorper sheep grazing at his Baringo Farm. The farmer has adapted to the new technology to help him in rearing and selling his sheep. Photo courtesy.

A Dorper sheep farmer from rural Rift Valley region in Kenya has been able to avert about 60 per cent losses he used to incur in sales of his flock since he started the venture in 2003 due to lack of proper market information thanks to new technologies such as smartphones and Facebook.

Though Kisenana Kiprono was able to face out his first red Maasai sheep through crossbreeding by Dorper breeds to up his flock’s standards for more income, he was still selling the improved breeds at an average of Sh4,000 per sheep against an average of Sh10,000.

“We used to sell the red Maasia sheep at Sh1,500 each due to their low quality. This is the price we were used to in this area and we did not know the price of the new breed till late,” said the Baringo County farmer.

Kiprop and his fellow farmers used to rely on middlemen who used to visit rural markets in the area to buy the animals at a price standard that they (middlemen) used to set.

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According to a 2017 case study by Koome Dennis Karani and John Wanjohi for the University of Nairobi on Factors Influencing Marketing of Agricultural Produce among Small-Scale Farmers, confirms that 69.9 per cent of the farmers access marketing information from middlemen.

However, for Kiprono and his colleagues this was not to last long. When he got a smartphone around 2012 enabling him access internet through cellular data, he started researching much on Dorper sheep rearing and marketing.

“I was surprised that this breed of sheep could sell up to Sh15,000 per ram and Sh10,000 a ewe as opposed to Sh4,000 that some traders used to buy them from us,” Said the 2003 engineering graduate from National Youth Service (NYS).

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The farmer with his other two colleagues in the area has since started a Facebook page, Kisenana Dorper Sheep Breeders where they sell rams to other sheep farmers who seek them for breeding purposes as they do not allow the farmers to bring their ewes into their farms to prevent any spread of diseases.

“Some farmers do not vaccinate their flocks. Therefore it becomes a big risk to allow their sheep into our farms as this can expose our flocks to dangerous diseases,” said Kiprono.

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The three through a collective bargaining sell the sheep to those who want to slaughter them for meat such as butcheries and abattoirs in the area where the sheep are sold according to the number of kilos of meat realized.

A mature ram can produce up to 40kg of meat while a ewe can give meat weight of up to 25kg. They sell a kilo of the sheep’s meat at Sh350.

Kiprono says that in a year he can raise up to 20 mature rams for breeding or even for meat.

“I nowadays rely much on the Internet and vets for the information on production and sales of my sheep. This has enabled me and my colleagues up our bargaining power and avoid selling at a throw-away prices as we used to,” He said.

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This is in line with Koome Dennis Karani and John Wanjohi’s case study findings that farmers equipped with information have stronger bargaining power and can access a number of markets at the same time.

Kiprono can be found through +254 731 361 781

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