The animal feed crisis in Kenya is pushing poultry farmers to shift to other ventures like pig farming.
A 50kg bag of the dairy meal is currently selling at Sh2,800, layers mash at Sh4,500 and broiler feed is going for Sh6,000 per bag.
Zachary Munyambo, a poultry farmer from Kiambu county said the cost of feed continues to rise and he is now planning to shift to pig farming.
“With pigs, I can supplement the feed with leftovers from hotels if I am not able to buy commercial feed. This is unlike poultry farming (especially for the layers) where I have to rely on commercial feed to get maximum profit,” he said.
Munyambo said many farmers closed shop and some have been auctioned by the banks for failing to repay their loans.
He said the cost of animal feeds has gone up by an average of Sh500 per bag since the beginning of the year.
Currently, a bag of layers mash is selling at Sh3,600 and in April, the same bag went for Sh2,950 yet the price of eggs has not gone up.
Munyambo said the cost of production is high as the cost of rearing one chick rose to Sh850 from Sh580 last year.
In June, he had 1,000 layers but he has been selling them off due to the high cost of feed.
He is left with 500 layers which he is planning to sell and if the situation does not improve, Munyambo said he may have to demolish the structures.
“I do not see myself continuing with poultry farming. I want to either venture into pig or dairy farming,” he said.
“Pig farming is better because you can supplement feeds with hotel leftovers unlike in poultry where you must use commercial feeds and if you don’t get good quality feeds, your layers will not produce.”
Munyambo, is also the chairman of Kiambu Poultry Farmers’ Cooperative.
“By 2021, the cooperative had about 700 farmers but currently, only about 120 are remaining and they are still struggling. As a cooperative, we produce our own animal feeds and sell them to our members, but getting soya and maize germ has been a big challenge,” he said.
“The government should allow the importation of genetically modified organism yellow maize and GMO soya.”
He added that the world has turned to GMOs but Kenya is still stuck in the 2012 Cabinet memo that banned GMO products.
Buketi Wafula, chairman of Broiler World Association of Kenya said the situation has not changed and farmers are still grappling with the high cost of feed.
Wafula, a poultry farmer based in Kiserian, Kajiado county had 5,000 broilers in January 2021 and by December, he had downsized to 3,000 birds. Currently, he has 1,000 birds.
He said the yellow maize imports that came into the country last month were insufficient and did not help in bringing down the cost of feed.
On July 26, the Association of Kenya Feed Manufacturers said a consignment of 40,000 metric tons of non-genetically modified yellow maize would arrive in the country.
Martin Kinoti, Akefema secretary general said this was just a drop in the ocean, and confirmed that it has been challenging for feed millers to source any non-GMO yellow maize anywhere.
Wafula urged the government to allow a certain percentage of GMO maize to be used by the feed industry only.
“We cannot run away from science. Other countries like Brazil and Argentina are using it and they are exporting poultry products to other countries and we have not had any problems so far,” Wafula said.
“Even India and Rwanda have started allowing GMO raw materials for animal feed in order to reduce competition for white maize for human consumption.”
John Gathogo, a feed miller said the animal feed crisis has not improved and the price of maize coming from Zambia is still high.
A 90kg bag of maize from Zambia is going for Sh6,000 and with a levy reduction of Sh200, it is getting into the country at Sh5,800.
“This is still high because 30-40 per cent of the raw materials used to produce feed is maize and a miller has other costs of inputs,” he said.
“It makes the end product expensive for the farmers. But if the cost of maize was about Sh4,000 per bag, the price of feed would have gone down.”
Gathogo said the high cost of feed can be attributed to other challenges including the Ukraine-Russia war which has led to a global shortage of maize and fluctuation of the dollar.
“Farmers are still not able to break even. I call upon the next government to allow the animal feed industry to use GMO maize and soya for raw materials,” Gathogo said.
“We have engaged scientists and they have assured us that embracing science would be the game changer and would contribute to a price reduction of between 20-25 per cent.”