How local traders link pastoralists to market in north Kenya

The article “Manoeuvring through difficult terrain: how local traders link pastoralists to markets” by Guyo Roba et al, published in the Journal of Rural Studies 54 (2017): 85–97, looks at the role of pastoralists, traders, brokers, transporters and other actors in pastoral meat-supply chains. Projects to “link pastoralists to markets” in northern Kenya focus on pastoralists without enough understanding of other actors involved in the primary, secondary, regional and terminal markets. The article analyses sheep and goat supply chains originating in Marsabit South as a human activity system composed of the actions of supply-chain actors and shaped by the relations between them. The geographical areas from which local markets receive the small ruminants (the “producer catchment area”) are depicted as finely branched tributaries through which livestock are moved toward terminal markets. A stakeholder analysis led to identification of six categories of local traders who connect with other actors in local and long-distance chains to supply sheep and goats to markets. The categories of traders are distinguished by different demands in travel, labour, working capital, risk exposure and relations with other actors. To deal with variable and uncertain supply, local traders harness their social relations with other actors in the supply chain. They have high risks of loss because of fluctuations in demand at the terminal market, as they depend on market information through brokers and lack direct relations to clients at the terminal market. This study shows how systematic analysis of activities performed by actors, the interconnected activities linking them, and their relationships can offer insight to improve supply-chain coordination.

Posted on 26 September 2017 in Pastoralism & Marketing