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Kenya's Small Farmers Hit by High Feed Prices

by 5m Editor
28 September 2009, at 8:28am

KENYA - Poultry output is set to drop by the end of this year as the price of chicken feed increases and input costs rise. Smaller farms are forced to cut back on poultry production.

According to Ms Wairimu Kariuki, the chairperson of Kenya Poultry Farmers Association (Kepofa), the industry is likely to report a 30 per cent drop in production and incur heavy losses because most farmers have reduced the number of chicken they are rearing.

Business Daily reports that Ms Kariuki said: "Chicken feed accounts for 70 per cent of the total input cost so if the feed prices goes up, the input-costs will automatically increase. If a farmer cannot meet the costs, he chooses to either reduce the number of chicken he rears or stop poultry farming altogether."

She said the prices for chicken mash had increased by approximately 20 per cent since the beginning of this year and a visit by Business Daily to most animal feed stores proves so.

For instance, at Sigma Feeds Limited, a 70-kilo bag of chick mash that was retailing at 1,800 shillings (KES) in January this year, now retails at KES 2,090. A bag of grower mash now retails at KES 1,720 – up from KES 1,600. Layer mash sells at KES 1,860 (up from KES 1,700) and broilers mash retails at KES 2,540, up from KES 2,450.

The industry now fears that if farmers continue to reduce the number of chicken they are rearing, by the end of the year there might not only be a scarcity of poultry products but also increased prices on poultry products.

"In an effort to reduce input costs, Kepofa last July appealed to the Ministry of Livestock Development to allow the importation of yellow maize as an alternative chicken feed. The appeal was implemented by the end of the year but the effect was not as significant as expected.

"Some time in November last year, prices for chicken mash dropped by KES 10 but this was for a short time," said Ms Kariuki.

Last year, Kepofa formulated a policy draft that addressed key issues facing the poultry industry.

Among them was the marketing of poultry products, rearing and processing. If the policy is passed, this would be the first time that the industry in the country is operating under a guided policy.

For a long time, local farmers have been practising poultry farming as a basic social-cultural activity, with most of them rearing the birds for subsistence, concludes the Business Daily report.