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Sheep researchers win top prize in international conference

A study by the sheep breeding and the policy teams at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has won the Best Overall Paper in the International Agribusiness Marketing Conference, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (22-23 October, 2013).

The paper “Assessing sheep traders’ preferences in Kenya: A best-worst experiment from Kajiado County” by Nadhem Mtimet, Derek Baker, James Audho, Edwin Oyieng and Julie Ojango, seeks to determine the sheep value chain in Kenya.

The study investigates the purchase behavior of sheep traders in Kajiado County in Kenya. It is the first investigation on sheep traders by the use of Best-Worst technique. The results of the study will inform the ongoing research at ILRI’s Kapiti experimental farm.

Four attributes with different levels have been utilized to describe the Best-Worst experiment: sheep age, sex, breed and price. All sheep traders assign higher importance to the sheep breed. This is the case of Dorper pure breed and Dorper x Red Maasai cross breed. Price attribute was the second most important factor for sheep traders with higher preferences for the two extreme price levels. Sheep age and sex were found of least importance for traders. Providing sheep smallholders with the appropriate animal breed characteristics will enable them match market demand and increase their incomes.

A face-to-face questionnaire was undertaken in three livestock markets (Kiserian, Bissil and Mile 46) involving 108 traders. The results indicated that sheep traders are also involved in other types of animal trading, essentially cattle and goats.

Income from sheep trading represents slightly less of the half of total incomes, with some differences between livestock traders’ groups (markets). Traders are generally involved in other business activities among the value chain such as livestock production, fattening and slaughtering.

“This was a good inter-disciplinary partnership at ILRI, and congratulations are due everyone involved” noted one of the authors Derek Baker who is also head of the Policy, trade, value chains (PTVC) Program.

Commendations also came from Iain Wright, Director of the Animal Sciences for Sustainable Productivity Program under which the study was conducted (ILRI-Concern-NIA Sheep). ILRI’s Director of Institutional Management, Shirley Tarawali also congratulated the team.

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