Academic journal article Africa

Risky Trade, Resilient Traders: Trust and Livestock Marketing in Northern Kenya

Academic journal article Africa

Risky Trade, Resilient Traders: Trust and Livestock Marketing in Northern Kenya

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This article examines innovations in livestock marketing that livestock traders in northern Kenya use to overcome a host of trading obstacles. Livestock trading in northern Kenya is one of the toughest and most risk-prone jobs in the region, yet livestock traders have been able not only to transform the ways in which trading is conducted through 'home-made' innovations, but also to mitigate trading risks. The article demonstrates how livestock traders have become resilient to risks and have been able to succeed in a trade that in the past many have had to abandon. Trust embedded in social networks and relations reinforces the adoption of risk-minimizing strategies. The article focuses on the broad field of pastoral risk management to illustrate how an innovative risk management strategy can be used to create a successful business entrepreneurship in a risk-prone environment. I draw on fieldwork conducted during 2001-2 among cattle traders in Moyale District of northern Kenya and Nairobi, and on recent work among Somali livestock traders-cum-ranchers in Garissa District of North Eastern and Coast provinces.

RESUME

Cet article examine les innovations en matiere de commercialisation du betail que les negociants en betail du Nord du Kenya utilisent pour surmonter une multitude d'obstacles aux echanges. Bien que le commerce du betail dans le Nord du Kenya soit l'une des activites les plus dures et les plus risquees de la region, les negociants en betail ont reussi a non seulement transformer les modes d'echange par le biais d'innovations << de fabrication maison >>, mais egalement a reduire les risques commerciaux. L'article montre comment les negociants en betail ont developpe une resistance aux risques et ont reussi dans un secteur que beaucoup ont du abandonner par le passe. La confiance qui fait partie integrante des reseaux sociaux et des relations renforce l'adoption de strategies de minimisation des risques. L'article examine le domaine assez large de la gestion du risque pastoral pour illustrer l'utilisation d'une strategie innovante de gestion du risque pour creer une entreprise commerciale prospere dans un environnement a risque. L'auteur s'appuie sur des travaux de terrain menes en 2001-2002 aupres de negociants en betail du district de Moyale dans le Nord du Kenya et a Nairobi, et sur des travaux recents menes aupres de negociants-eleveurs somaliens du district de Garissa des provinces cotieres et du Nord-Est

**********

Risks in livestock marketing in Kenya's northern borderlands are neither few nor new. New risks emerge on a regular basis, to which traders respond by inventing new ways to cope with these challenges. Cattle traders portray distinct behaviours under various constraints, such as market uncertainty, macro-economic decline and political instability (Little 1996b; Teka et al. 1999). Faced with myriad risks and uncertainties, they forge various social relationships and adopt diversification strategies to avert or cope with those constraints (Little 1992a; Little et al. 2001; Smith et al. 2000). Basing his study on cattle traders in southern Somalia, Little found that in times of political and economic volatility traders who had diversified markets prospered more than others, while those who focused only on one outlet, such as export trade, suffered the most (Little 1992b, 1996a, 2003). Little's studies indicate that diversification of business is an effective survival strategy under uncertain circumstances.

This article examines innovations in livestock marketing that traders in northern Kenya use to overcome a host of obstacles. Although theirs is one of the toughest and most risk-prone jobs in the region, livestock traders have been able not only to transform the ways in which trading is conducted through 'home-made' innovations, but also to mitigate the risks they face. The article demonstrates how they have become resilient to these risks and have been able to succeed in a trade that many in the past have abandoned. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.