The market of highland Samburu cattle: a community study of pastoralist capabilities and options in the subsistence and commercial sectors
Perlov, Diane Catherine
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This paper addresses the premise that the traditional use of livestock, whether for purposes of ritual, subsistence, or economic savings and investment, adversely affects the flow of beef from the pastoral sector to the commercial market. A twenty-two month research project concerning this issue was conducted among a highland Samburu pastoral community. The investigation focused on the relationship between the traditional and the commercial circulation of cattle in order to properly assess this current approach to pastoral beef production and marketing. Preliminary results indicate that low market participation by herd owners is not a result of pastoralist hoarding their cattle within the traditional sector, nor is commercial ranching essential to ensure off-take from the pastoral herds. On the contrary, the research suggests that the depressed commercial market is a reflection of a stagnating pastoral economy, and that under conditions of prosperity herd owners seek out trading in the commercial sector as a modern avenue for investing back into pastoralism. What is therefore recommended for the rejuvenation of the Samburu livestock marketing system is development efforts aimed at the overall pastoral sector and towards restitution of confidence in the durability of pastoralism.