The challenges and opportunities for sustainable management of cattle ranches in Kitui district, Kenya
Mwele, Mbithe Esther
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The study pursued a concept of organizational differentiation with a particular reference to cooperative and group ranches to understand the challenges and opportunities for cattle ranches management. It evaluated the existing policy framework on livestock development in terms of its strengths and weaknesses. It also identified the factors constraining operations and performance and environmental problems associated with ranching. Further, it explored the opportunities available for sustainable cattle ranching. In carrying out the study, a questionnaire, an interview schedule and a guide and an observation record sheet were used to collect data. Data collected were collated, coded and analysed. Data were analysed descriptively using contingency tables that generated frequencies and percentages. The study established that mismanagement of cattle ranches was the greatest internal constraint to its operations and performance. This was attributed to lack of proper advance planning for ranch activities, demoralized and incompetent staff that were easily corruptible. Both members and non-members identified a prominent external constraint as the encroachment of ranches. These resulted in change of land use, and a complete halt of ranch activities. It further leads to wastage of resources especially finances through court proceedings, fuel, equipment and personnel for patrol and eviction diverting attention from important activities. The environmental problems identified were competitive land uses, livestock wildlife conflicts and social conflicts. With the emergence of these problems the activities of cattle ranches were highly challenged. The study found that there are opportunities for revival and success of ranch activity. For this opportunity to be realized, the study recommends the following; proper plan formulation, implementation and management of ranch activities, provision of professional expertise and election of new officials in management committees, settlement of court case concerning illegal settlement and reconciliation of all conflicts, awareness creation programmes that focus on the importance of cattle ranches, explore the opportunities of exploiting other resources such as; wildlife conservation and harvesting, wood carving and the need for develop a comprehensive policy on effective cattle ranch management.