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'Mavenism' and 'innovativeness' among small ruminant keepers in Kenys'a Isiolo and Marsabit Districts

Mailu, S.K (2010): 'Mavenism' and 'innovativeness' among small ruminant keepers in Kenys'a Isiolo and Marsabit Districts.

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Small ruminants play an important social and economic role in the lives of many pastoralists who inhabit many parts of Northern Kenya. Compared to other parts of the country, the area is poorly served by modern communication services but as mobile telephone services are rolled into these areas, this gap is slowly eroding. This possibility will likewise improve the chances of providing this population with up-to-date market intelligence which in turn should improve the returns from the sale of livestock in distant markets. To operationalise this, the use of the internet as well as SMS delivered market intelligence through the National Livestock Market Information System (NLMIS) was launched in 2007.

As a novel idea in the region, it was expected that information about its existence would pass through a series of intermediaries. Based on a study of 250 pastoral households, this paper attempts to explore the concepts of mavenism, opinion leadership and innovativeness in the marketing of small ruminants from the larger Marsabit and Isiolo Districts of Eastern Province, Kenya. The results are mixed with an indication that mavens are not necessarily those with large flocks. It further concludes that though the NLMIS is still relatively unknown among respondents, the presence of market mavens who in the study are indistinguishable from opinion leaders could catalyze the spread and eventual use of the system.

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