Laikipia North is a pastoralist-populated landscape with marginal rains. Most of the soils are not as rich in nutrients as their black cotton cousins. The Maa-speaking people of this landscape have a strong and historical connection to these lands. But their traditional movements are curtailed by more modern land use and property boundaries. Climate change introduces more frequent and unexpected challenges making livestock management in marginal areas a real challenge. So, what’s next for pastoralism?
This is in part, answered by the birth of Oramat Lenaboisho Cooperative Society.
ORAMAT LENABOISHO COOPERATIVE SOCIETY is a community livestock enterprise based in Laikipia North sub-County. The primary purpose of the cooperative enterprise at present is cattle finishing/fattening to ensure better prices and better market access for Maasai cows. This effort started in 2016 in cooperation with Borana Conservancy. The Cooperative aims to be a self-sustaining profitable livestock business, with finishing feedlots and modern slaughterhouse, and reliable market access. Improved livestock management, better and healthier breeds, and better rangelands are the goals.
Here’s how the Cooperative works – They secure steers and cull cows from their members, they fatten them using grass and feed supplements, provide medicine, and carefully monitor their condition and weights. Fatter, healthier cows, managed exclusively for more up-scale meat markets, fetch better prices. Members are given the after-sale profits. Land lease agreements with Borana Conservancy for grass and medicines are also paid from after-sales profits.
The Cooperative currently draws members from 6 neighborhoods in the greater Borana area. 150 members are shareholders. Since 2016, more than 800 cows have been put through the Cooperative, with a gross income of more than 45M Kenya Shillings. And the Cooperative is poised for growth if they can do two things:
- Increase the amount of land used for fattening through additional land lease agreements, or outright land purchase.
- With their members, address rangelands restoration and better pasture management in their home areas.
This move has greatly awakened these community members to think outside the box and know that livestock are no longer needed reared just for prestige but for commercialization in order to reap maximum benefit. It also makes for better neighborhood relations and in time, better rangelands.
Oramat Lenaboisho Cooperative Society is a member of the Laikipia Forum, and enjoys support and services from the Forum’s HQ in Nanyuki.