Turkana County is predominantly inhabited by pastoralists and goat meat is a commonly consumed food.
But goat meat is so expensive here, selling for as high as nearly twice the national average.
While a kilogramme of meat goes for an average of Sh600 in Nairobi, for instance, in Lodwar, it can go for as high as Sh800.
This is much higher than prices at the Kenya Meat Commission, which charges Sh420 per kilo, in Mogotio, the famed goat meat producer in neighbouring Baringo County, Sh450, and at the Kiamaiko Slaughterhouse in Nairobi, where goats sourced from Turkana are sold for Sh5,000 per head just like in remote parts of the county.
Angered by this order of events, a group of young people want to change the situation.
Formed in 2017, the Choroo Youth Group intends to make goat meat affordable again to an average family in Turkana.
Gabriel Lomoe, a member of the group, says that in remote villages, one can buy a healthy goat for even as little as Sh2,500 to slaughter and prepare a meal for the family or visitors because they are reared in large numbers.
This is what informed him and his two friends to form the group to supply goats to the main livestock market in Lodwar, hotels and schools.
“We didn’t have jobs. Through supplying at least 40 goats daily we realised that we can earn a living and provide for our families,” he said.
What struck the group is the sustained price gouging at the market by brokers that has existed for more than 10 years.
For every healthy goat from remote villages in Loima sub-county, the group was spending between Sh4,000 and Sh5,000 to buy and transport to Lodwar, where it generates between Sh400 and Sh700 in profit.
“The price of the same goat, however, doubles to Sh8,000 when brokers sell to butcheries in Lodwar. Butcheries are forced to ensure they earn at least Sh10,000 and by hiking the prices of meat to Sh800 per kilo,” Mr Lomoe said.
The group has now established a butchery next to the Lodwar Livestock Market where they want to champion affordable prices of meat for consumers.
The butchery that aims to slaughter at least 20 goats per day is offering the meat for Sh500 per kilo, Sh250 for a half a kilo and Sh125 for a quarter.
Their prices are a huge discount, down from Sh800 per kilo, Sh400 for a half and Sh200 for a quarter, by eliminating brokers along the livestock value chain.
Lydia Arot, a local, said most families in Lodwar could not afford to buy adequate quantities of meat.
“A family of 10 where the breadwinner is earning at least Sh300 a day can’t even afford a quarter of the meat at licensed butcheries. That is why there are many unlicensed butchers in informal settlements selling cheap uninspected meat,” she said.
The prices of nyama choma (roast meat), she said, has also been high as one must spend an extra Sh200 to comfortably enjoy a kilo of goat meat.
The youth group, which has also been operating as a company that deals with construction and general supplies, has provided employment opportunities to more than 50 youth.
Leaders in the county have been challenging young people to form groups and establish small and medium-size enterprises as a solution to the unemployment crisis.
Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok said that through county leadership forums they have been consulting on how to attract big investors from other parts of the country so that through interaction, locals can learn from them how to do business.
He urged locals to learn how to invest their income by engaging in business activities to multiply their earnings for prosperity.
“It is through entrepreneurship that the county economy can grow and develop to the level of other counties,” he said.
Turkana Central MP John Lodepe urged residents to embrace diversity so as to thrive in business as opposed to the culture of copycatting where many have established bars.
Turkana West MP Daniel Epuyo said lack of proper entrepreneurial skills has seen many groups fail to establish sustainable businesses.
“There are groups that only form to get funding from both county and national government kitties. Once the money is in their accounts, it is withdrawn and shared. Many have defaulted on repaying loans, especially from the Uwezo Fund,” Mr Epuyo observed.