Inside Politics

Poultry Farm: Farmers in massive losses as market fails

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019 00:00 |
Ann Wanjiku, who started poultry keeping in 1996 has sold her 2,000 chicken after the egg market collapsed.

The story of Kirika Poultry Farm reflects the pain and agony of Kenyan poultry farmers, some of who have quit the business after the market collapsed. Lewis Maina, a poultry keeper at Ngoigwa estate in Thika, lost hope and reduced his birds from 2,000 to 400 after the venture became unviable.

Before the glut, Maina produced 15 trays a day. A stable market in Mombasa saw prices range from Sh270 to Sh300, earning him Sh70,000 each month. 

After hell broke loose, prices plummeted to Sh200. Maina realised he was depleting his savings to meet farm costs.

Ann Wanjiku, who started the venture in1996 with 300 birds, has never encountered such a crisis. “We used to buy a bag of feeds at below Sh1,000; today it costs Sh3,000. I disposed of most of my 2,000 birds,” says Maina’s neighbour.

She has now resumed poultry keeping after 1,000 poultry keepers from the Kiambu county, with the help of Thika MP Patrick Wainaina and his Gatundu North counterpart Wanjiku wa Kibe, registered a co-operative society.

Farmers’ cooperative 

Through the group dubbed Kiambu County Poultry Farmers’ Co-operative Society, the farmers have invested in their own chicken feeds factory. However, due to the high cost of raw materials--—mostly maize, which is the main ingredient– feeds are available to members at Sh300 per bag less than market prices.

Zachary Munyambu, the co-operative’s coordinator, saysfarmers must know their break-even points. For a farmer to benefit, one bag of feeds should serve 500 birds, producing 15 trays per day. 

For instance, for a farmer keeping 2,000 birds, producing 60 trays of eggs daily for sale at Sh300, needs only to sell 40 trays to  buy four bags of chicken feed at Sh3, 000 each. “The balance of Sh6,000 can pay wages, electricity, water and other farm costs and still make a small profit,” says Munyambu. 

Munyambu said this is impossible if market prices average Sh200 a tray at current quality and cost of feeds. “Maize is a key ingredient because of energy, which enables the hen to produce quality eggs. If maize prices are high, the feed factory has to raise its price or compromise the quality of the feeds because it is  also in business,” he said.- 

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