Inside Politics

Poultry sector stares at crisis as egg producers close businesses

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021 00:00 |
Breeders also switch to other economic activities, citing unbearable cost of commercial feeds.

Poultry market in the country is engulfed in an economic crisis as primary value chains, egg producers and breeders of day-old chicks close businesses, while financial institutions threaten to auction their assets.

In Kiambu and Murang’a counties, poultry farmers have abandoned the trade and instead ventured into other economic activities, citing unbearable cost of commercial feeds.

But even then, the new ventures are not rosy as effects of Covid-19 continue hammering the economy.

Kiambu County Poultry Farmers Cop Society (KCPFCS) with a membership of 700 farmers, drawn from the two counties, says 60 per cent of its members have stopped poultry farming, citing high cost of feed. 

Some farmers with as much as 10,000 birds’ population have stopped bird farming thus compounding their economic situation whose import is  escalation of  insecurity and grinding poverty.  

“Poultry farming before Covid-19 was a lucrative business and more people were interested and willing to extend their investments.  

But, this year the cost of feed has increased rapidly resulting in the many farmers calling it quits,” said the society co-ordinator  Zachary Munyambu.   

However, those who are still hanging in there have reduced their investments.

Munyambu added: “The situation has led to idling of huge investment the farmers had extended, with commercial and microfinance banks bullying and threatening to auction their assets.”

“Majority of the farmers have been servicing loans with local financial institutions without any interruption but the situation changed following the emergence of the Covid-19 and escalating cost of feeds.

Right now the majority are staring at auctioning of their assets by the banks as their monetary power is weak,” he stated.

Members of the society, who also manufacture their own feeds instead of buying from the big millers, are grappling with lack of raw materials and concentrates such as soya and cotton cakes.

A kilogramme of soya is currently costing between Sh90 and Sh100 from Sh35 in January.

Where it is available in the region, for example, Zambia and Malawi, local importers are facing stiff competition from other countries such as India and China. India is importing soya following the destruction of its crop by floods. 

Day-old chicks

He said breeders of day-old chicks have stopped the business owing to lack of enough eggs. 

The low production, he said has led to high demand of the chicks and equally farmers cannot import the same due to high taxes.

Prices of available eggs have equally dropped by 6.6 per cent in the last one year.

Association of Kenya Animal Feeds Manufacturers (Akefema) this week confirmed 15 manufacturing companies have closed down as supply of various components of raw materials. 

The association called on the government to allow importation of yellow maize and cheap genetically modified organisms (GMO) soya cake from the US, Brazil and South Africa. 

However, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya disagreed, saying approval to import will only be allowed once the government is satisfied with the food situation in the country.

“Various departments of the ministry are currently undertaking an assessment of the food situation in the country.

We will only issue the next course of action based on the outcome of the report,” he said recently. 

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