NAIROBI, Feb. 27 — “Hello farmers, I am looking for Holstein Friesian dairy cow, in its second calving, with an average production of 30 to 40 liters per day,” wrote Benson Kibet in a farmers’ online group.
Kibet got several answers almost immediately, “I am Jane from Githunguri and I have the animal you are searching for. I have first to third calvers. First calver offers 25 liters, second 32 liters and third 32 to 40 liters,” one farmer offered, sending pictures of the cows.
Another similarly replied with a photo of a Friesian animal he was selling, “Second calver, produces 28 liters, price negotiable.”
Other farmers also gave Kibet their offers, with their descriptions accompanied with photos that excited not only him but also other members of the group.
Such online groups have become the fastest and easiest way Kenyan farmers are shopping for and buying animals as cattle farming takes root in the East African nation.
Besides the farmers’ groups, there are also animal selling apps like Cowsoko where registered cattle-keepers can buy and sell their animals and pay via mobile money. The online groups are, however, popular with farmers because they are free.
“I got contact details of the sellers and conversed with them on the telephone and arranged to visit two farms that were not far from each other. I never thought that it would be this easy for me to buy an animal. This group has made the exercise easier,” he said.
The last time he bought an animal three years ago, the farmer first went scouting at a market in his neighborhood in Uasin Gishu, and then at several farms incurring huge travel expenses.
“Still, I did not even get what I wanted and had to travel to Limuru where I found an animal that I bought from a reliable farmer who had all the records,” said Kibet, lauding the group dubbed “Dairy Farmers Kenya.”
The online group mainly comprises of dairy farmers from different parts of the country, with the members having met at a dairy forum in Nairobi.
They then formed the group and have incorporated in their agricultural experts, who often answer some of their queries.
However, according to Hazel Mueni, a member of another farmers’ group, while there is plenty of peer-to-peer learning on the forums, the outfits come in handy for farmers seeking to acquire or sell their animals.
“I wish to buy dairy goats, can I be assisted to get in touch with the seller?” posed Mueni to members of the group last week.
“I have a farmer friend who keeps quality German Alpine animals. You will not regret if you buy them,” a farmer replied.
Mueni later linked up with the seller and with a vet officer, she went for the animals in Meru from her Machakos farm.
“I bought two animals, a doe and a buck, and exchanged one with the farmer,” she said.
Simon Muriuki, a livestock extension officer in Kiambu County, noted that they encourage farmers to join the online groups to keep in touch with their peers in the sector.
“I belong to several dairy farmers groups. I normally advise farmers that once one has identified the animals they want to buy in the groups, they then go with a vet to check on the quality.”
“The groups have only cut the search for animals, which is a great thing, but due diligence should be followed after identifying the animals,” – XINHUA