Humbo is one of the districts in wolayita zone of SNNPR bordering LIVES district-Mirab Abaya-is currently operating. It has an independent livestock marketing center well situated in the district town. The livestock market is large and is an important hub for traders and buyers from across the country. Although different types of livestock (fattened cattle, breeding cows, heifers, calves, sheep and goats) are marketed, the Humbo market is especially well-known for its fattened cattle. Animals from highland and lowland areas of Wolaita, Gamogofa, South Omo and Guji zones of Oromia region are brought to the market every Thursday.
The LIVES project recently visited Humbo to gain further insights into the dynamics of livestock commodity value chains.
Castrated and non-castrated animals are supplied to Humbo market. Fattening a castrated animal is a common traditional practice. Fattening of non-castrated animals has recently emerged associated with the development of export markets to the Middle East that demands it (preference for lean meat and other cultural reasons). The same market also prefers light skinned non-castrated animals. Castrates are oxen that move to fattening after the cultivation period is over. Although non-castrates are bulls they are used for fattening either after giving traction service or before.
The main marketing actors involved at Humbo include producers, traders, brokers/agents and consumers. Prices are set by visual judgment, not by weighing. Although producers are part of the system, their role in fixing the price, bargaining and decisions is nominal. Occasionally producers are required to deliver their animals to brokers (to let them sell on their behalf) and they stay outside of the marketing center, mainly in the town. This practice denies producers opportunities to bargain and get fair prices for the animals they produced. Consequently, decisions are made through negotiations between brokers and traders or brokers and consumers (butchers, hotels etc.). This was raised as a serious marketing problem faced by the producers during the platform meetings organized by LIVES in Mirab Abaya and Arbaminch zuria districts.
Humbo buyers come from different areas and buy animals for different purposes. Fattened castrates are usually sold for domestic consumption, in which case, buyers included butchers from within Wolaita zone, Gamogofa zone, universities and hotels. The main buyers of non-castrates are traders in the export market. According to these traders, animals are transported to Adama where they rest for some days and are then trucked to Somaliland for export to the Middle East.
Most animals in the Humbo market are trekked from different areas. At the platform meeting, producers mentioned that they trek their animals for more than 60 km to the market. Animal transport after marketing takes different forms. Although there is no special truck for animal transport, most long-distance buyers transport animals using multi-purpose Isuzu cars. buyers from closer Wolaita zone and the surroundings trek the animals to their destinations.
The Humbo livestock market demonstrates that there are large numbers and different types of animals marketed in a single day. The livestock marketed are supplied from diverse production systems and locations (including LIVES operating districts of Gamogofa), and marketed animals are transported to various geographical areas as far as the Middle East. The market also creates opportunities for other businesses such as transporters.
However, trekking many animals over long distances often results in substantial loss of the carcass weight and quality. Introducing animal transport facilities where there is access to roads, establishing resting points with feed and water, and establishing marketing centers at different locations could help minimize these losses.
To help producers obtain better prices for their products, marketing groups could be established to help members synchronize their production cycle to bulk sales, arrange transport collectively, and create direct linkages with export traders.
Contributed by Yoseph Mekasha, Birhanu Biazen, Tesfaye Dubale and Dirk Hoekestra