Thursday, January 28, 2016

Fanning hay business in Laikipia County

By Jane Kirimi and Paul Gichungu
Laikipia County has experienced an exponential growth in hay production and trade. This is because of an enabling environment created through interventions by the county government and the Agricultural Sector Development Support Program (ASDSP).
In May 2015, actors in the hay value chain registered Laikipia Hay Company Ltd. The private limited company is now addressing the existing gaps in production, harvesting, storage, and marketing.
Some of the services provided by the company include creation of market linkages, sourcing for livestock inputs, and providing appropriate technologies to farmers.
Company Directors on a fact finding mission in Nakuru
The company in collaboration with ASDSP and the County government is taking lead to address two intertwined challenges of hay quality and standard control. This includes standardizing the size of hay bale, timing of harvesting and post-harvest handling.
Mr. Eliud Karani, Chairman, Laikipia Hay Company Ltd noted that through support from ASDSP, they have been able to help livestock farmers improve their production and income through provision of quality hay.
The company has a 20-acre Rhodes grass farm in Sweet Waters, a 15 km distance from Nanyuki town. The farm serves as a demonstration farm for best practices in hay farming.
Mr. Karani said that they have now started buying and bulking hay for marketing within and outside the County. This will ensure smallholder farmers get a ready market and stable prices for their hay.
He said that they are planning to venture into value addition of hay by making blocks through fortification and blending of nutrients.

“We want to have Laikipia Hay standardized, packaged, and branded. We have achieved a lot in less than a year and the future is extremely bright. Hay will be the cash crop for Laikipia County,” said Mr. Karani.

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