Wajir has an enormous supply of underground water as it sits on the Merti and Yamicha aquifer.
Additional water supply is provided by seasonal rivers and Ewaso Ngiro Basin along its Isiolo – Garissa border.
Commercial farming and horticulture through irrigation therefore promises an attractive return on investment.
The main crops grown in the county are sorghum, maize, millet, cowpeas and green grams.
In 2011, these crops yielded over 1.5 metric tons valued at Sh20 million. Horticulture is also practiced where shallow wells are predominant and crop enterprises include tomatoes, capsicums, kales, spinach, pawpaw and watermelon.
Wajir County has constructed five dams in Lagbogol, Lagbor and Khorof Harar that will increase crop yield by 70 per cent, according to Wajir County Irrigation Department Chief Officer Khalif Abdi Ali.
Additional construction of mega dams and investment in irrigation will increase agricultural revenue to over Sh100 million, says Khalif.
Partnership with firms providing integrated agribusiness solutions through irrigation with built-in social integration mechanisms are highly desirable, reiterated Khalif.
Additional investment opportunities in the sector include production of animal feeds like hay and grass, sale of vet medicines, horticulture & floriculture; melons, tomatoes, onions, flowers, aloe vera growing and primary processing, Seed oils: simsim, sunflower, jatropha, palm oil and dates, cotton farming, sisal growing and processing, poultry farming, and honey production and processing.
Wajir County is one of the major livestock producers in Kenya. The county is one of the major sources of beef and small stock sold in Nairobi and Mombasa. It has a vibrant goats and sheep market that trades daily while cattle and camels were traded once a week – every Monday.
According to records obtained from Wajir Livestock and Agriculture Department, an estimated annual revenue from livestock was Sh120 million in 2013.
In the pipeline is the construction of an ultra-modern abattoir which once launched and fully operational will raise the local livestock industry’s worth to Sh4.5 billion, confirmed Livestock and Veterinary services Chief Officer Bishar Adan Eymoy.
Wajir abattoir is expected to change the fortunes of livestock farmers and revolutionise its value chain. Meat will be exported to the Middle East in various categories; fresh, chilled, frozen, beef and veal, boneless, mutton and lamb and goat meat. Operations in the abattoir will conform to international certification including Halal standards.
Infrastructure within the abattoir consists of different holding areas, slaughter areas and cold rooms, for cows, goats, sheep and camels.
There will also be an emergency slaughter area for weak animals followed by a postmortem to ascertain their disease free status.
Other sections of the abattoir will include eleven animal holding pens, where livestock could be retained for up to three days continuously being fed and watered as they await slaughtering. Each holding pen can cater for up to 50 animals at any one time.
From the holding pens, the animals file one-by-one through the surveillance area and into the weigh bridge.
According to Wajir Director of Veterinary services Dr. George Kiprono, the facility has a capacity to comfortably process 1,500 animals daily coupled with refrigerated trucks for transport to the proposed cold room at the local airport.
“The abattoir is a supporting infrastructure that will play a pivotal role during drought seasons as farmers can dispose their animal stock without losing their returns on investment,” reiterates Dr. Kiprono.
The County Government is mandated to complete the construction and thereafter handover the daily operations to a commercial enterprise in the form of interested investors or a farmers’ cooperative society.
“The investor will be chosen after competitive and fair bidding. The goal being to ensure maximum return to the livestock farmers,” said the trade, investment, industrial and cooperative development Chief Officer Abdirahman Mathow Abdille.
The project’s blue print is inclusive of a blood tank collection unit to be used in processing dog feed. Hoofs and horns will be channeled into the glue cottage industries whilst skin and hides are earmarked to drive the tannery industries, says Wajir County leather production officer Nelson Ngare.
This expected burst of business growth in leather cottage industries will have a direct impact on the set up of manufacturing and exportation enterprises for leather work products like bags and shoes, says Mr. Ngare.
In addition, nothing goes to waste as an excrement collection sheds set up at the facility will supply raw material for processing farm manure. This will boost food production and enhance food security in the County.
According to Kenya Livestock Survey conducted in 2016, the value of the Middle East market is estimated at over US$ 2 billion with major importers including Saudi Arabia (36%), UAE (15%), Egypt (9%), Kuwait (7%), Iran, Yemen and Oman (5% each) and Lebanon (4%).
In the long-term, explains the Trade Chief Officer Abdille, the county will also look at entering other key markets such as the European Union market where Kenya has an export quota of 142 metric tons of beef.
By Donald Ngala