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Farmers Struggle with High Feed Prices

by 5m Editor
23 January 2009, at 9:32am

KENYA - High feed prices are pushing poultry farmers out of business.

Poultry farmers may be forced to reduce their flock due to the high price of feed, reports Business Daily Africa. Some have opted out of commercial poultry farming due to low returns from sale of bird products after spending so much on rearing them.

"Getting feeds has become a nightmare and many farmers are opting out of the poultry business. There will be a crisis very soon," said Ms Wairimu Kariuki, chairperson of the Kenya Poultry Farmers Association.

A 70 kilogramme bag of broiler feed now costs 2,400 shillings (KES) – up from KES 1,800 ; a bag of layers feed sells at KES 1,600 from KES 1,200 and chick mash costs KES 1,800 from KES 1,400 last year.

The Association says the high prices of feeds has led to a reduction of birds reared, a move that may trigger a shortage or a price increase of poultry products in the market.

The hardest hit are commercial farmers rearing exotic layers and broiler breeds who rely heavily on manufactured feed.

Inadequate supply of maize and wheat has caused the raw materials used by feeds manufacturers; maize germ, wheat bran and pollard prices to go up.

"The price of maize is very high which has made the price of feeds to go up," Martin Kinoti, the secretary-general of the Association of Kenya Feeds Manufacturers told Business Daily Africa.

The price of maize germ has shot up from KES 7 to KES 14 per kilo; wheat bran now costs KES 12 from KES 6 per kiloe while the price of pollard has risen from KES 8 to KES 15 per kilo.

Manufacturers of poultry feed have been in talks with the government to allow import of raw materials and to release part of the strategic grain reserve for animal feeds.

The government has appointed four firms – Mombasa Maize Millers, Corn Products Corporation, Pembe Flour and Nouis Pryefus, an international commodities dealer – to import a million bags of yellow maize.

Mr Kinoti says the imports will help ease pressure on the high prices of poultry feeds as they can sustain the industry for three months.

Talks are also under way for importation of the next consignment after the first one is over. Inadequate supply of foods containing proteins also used in poultry feed manufacturing has also impacted negatively on the price of poultry feed.

Manufacturers face a supply shortage of quality sardines (omena), cotton seed cake and sunflower seed cake, also used to make poultry feed.

Business Daily Africa reports that players are, however, hopeful that with the start of the long rains due in three months there will be enough supply of raw materials, pushing down the prices of all feeds down.