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    Hay & cattle delivery offers farmers additional income stream

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    By George Munene

    As more farm­ers adopt zero-graz­ing and mod­ern feed­ing meth­ods that in­cor­por­ate dried hay feeds that can be stored and used over the dry sea­son, this has spurred the cre­ation of an aux­il­i­ary ag­ri­cul­tural sub-sec­tor: the fer­ry­ing of feed (mostly hay) and some­times an­im­als to farm­ers. For Joseph Ki­arie, this has been his line of work since 2016.

    Cur­rently, he trans­ports up to 1500 bales daily which weigh between 14-17 kilo­grams each and costs Sh160-200 per bale de­pend­ing on loc­a­tion. With his two trucks and through out­sourced trans­port he now works with farm­ers across the coun­try.

    Be­fore fo­cus­ing on the lo­gist­ics of fod­der trans­port, Ki­arie grew hay which he then sold to brokers. In­creas­ingly he saw an emer­ging op­por­tun­ity for him­self to handle the en­tire farm to farm value chain as there was an in­flux of people into com­mer­cial dairy farm­ing and a grow­ing focus on more mod­ern feed­ing meth­ods.

    With his bal­loon­ing cli­ent base, he no longer just re­lies on his own farmed hay. Hay is har­ves­ted from farm­ers when the weather is dry, this al­lows him to meet his or­ders even over the usu­ally rainy March to May months. 

    Re­lated News: Journ­al­ist farmer pi­on­eers CCTV-sur­veyed farm­ing, re­ports jump in pro­duce and con­nec­tion

    Re­lated News: Trans­port prob­lems slash­ing Kenyan fresh ex­ports, des­pite de­mand in Europe

    The hay is then baled by con­tract­ors. He is work­ing on ac­quir­ing his own bal­ing equip­ment— two tract­ors and a bal­ing ma­chine—which could sig­ni­fic­antly cut on cost. Though ex­pens­ive, cost­ing up­wards of 6.5 mil­lion, he hopes to have his own ma­chines at the start of the next year. 

    While Joseph has the ca­pa­city to keep over 10,000 bales in his own stor­age shed, he out­sources most of his stor­age to big­ger farms such as Delamer and Gicheha in Na­k­uru. This owes to their hav­ing a bet­ter road sys­tem around them that is us­able even when it rains and a lot of the coun­try’s link roads are im­pass­able. This is also far cheaper than in­cur­ring the cost of build­ing and main­tain­ing stor­age fa­cil­it­ies he ar­gues.

    “Milk prices have been on the rise, which has en­ticed more people to com­mer­cial­ize their cow rear­ing meth­ods; un­like be­fore, now when I drive around areas of Nandi for ex­ample, I’ll rarely see farm­ers graz­ing their cows on the side of roads. More people are opt­ing for more in­tens­ive rear­ing prac­tices such as zero-graz­ing that have higher out­puts,” Ki­arie says. 

    As more farm­ers opt for high-value grasses such as Rhodes as a sup­ple­ment to tra­di­tional fod­der or look to im­prove their breed­ing stock by seek­ing bet­ter yield­ing cow vari­et­ies from across the coun­try; he is the man who handles the lo­gist­ics of this mak­ing sure everything gets to the farmer in good order and on time, cash on de­liv­ery, he in­sists. 

    Re­lated News: Ac­count­ant earns double from dairy and hay pro­duc­tion after quit­ting job

    Re­lated News: Gradu­ate earns about Sh1m a sea­son from hay pro­duc­tion after leav­ing Sh10,000 salary job

    The real head­ache in his line of work comes in the nu­mer­ous gov­ern­ment per­mits needed to op­er­ate within and transit across counties. A KeNHA wide load per­mit is a pre­requis­ite, vari­ous counties then have their own re­quired li­censes. For counties such as Machakos and Garissa, you'll need an op­er­at­ing li­cense, these can be paid per load or as a one-off monthly cost, Sh 3000 and 6000 re­spect­ively. Counties such as Na­k­uru charge for mov­ing goods from one farm to the next while in Kisii for ex­ample he also has to part with an ad­di­tional charge in park­ing fees.  

    Or­ders to far-flung counties re­quire out­sourcing to people with preex­ist­ing net­works: “get­ting a loader to de­liver hay to Mom­basa makes more eco­nomic sense than it would if I did it my­self. Re­gions such as Nairobi and Mom­basa also have a lot of re­turn­ing lor­ries that are often empty, I work with them to have them de­livered to farm­ers across these routes at a much-re­duced cost,” Joseph ex­plains.

    Hav­ing just de­livered some Ankole cows, a breed es­pe­cially pop­u­lar in west­ern Uganda, to a ranch in Narok county for a cli­ent he in­sists will re­main un­named, his bet on the niche agri-trans­port busi­ness is prov­ing brisk busi­ness. 

    Joseph Ki­arie: 0721804344/+254705271961

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