Poultry farmers in Elgeyo Marakwet County are facing significant challenges as the soaring cost of feed pushes them out of business.
The Association of Poultry Farmers in the county has expressed concern that the rising cost of consumables is eating into their profits and forcing many farmers to quit the industry altogether.
The surge in feed prices has been staggering with a 70kg bag of layers’ mash, a staple feed for poultry, now selling at Sh4, 500, compared to Sh3, 800 in April of last year. Similarly, chick mash has risen to Sh4, 940 from Sh4, 200, while the dairy meal is currently selling at Sh2, 850, up from Sh2,500. These substantial price increases have taken a toll on the profitability of poultry farming.
Poultry specialists and veterinarians point to the slow production of eggs as a contributing factor to the rising egg costs. The scarcity of eggs has also led poultry farmers to downsize their flocks, resulting in an increased demand for eggs and subsequently driving up their prices.
A recent survey of egg prices in Kapsowar revealed that a crate of eggs now fetches between Sh450 and Sh500. Sellers attribute this significant price increase to the exorbitant cost of feed. The high prices have put consumers under financial strain and have made it challenging for farmers to sustain their operations.
Sabina Jelimo, chair lady of the Elgeyo Marakwet Association of Poultry Farmers, expressed her concern over the decline in membership due to the high cost of feed saying many farmers have been operating at a loss and have been unable to withstand the burden of escalating expenses.
Jelimo emphasized that the association is actively engaging with farmers to encourage them to persevere while awaiting government intervention.
To mitigate the impact of soaring input costs, the association has advised farmers to downsize their operations and work within their current capacities to break even. However, the high cost of feed remains a significant setback for poultry farmers.
Jelimo appealed to the government to allow selected stakeholders to import maize and soya beans, which are essential ingredients in feed production.
The association’s research has revealed that some farmers who have already left the poultry farming business cited the unaffordable cost of feed as the primary reason for their departure.
Peter Kipkore, a former poultry farmer, shared his experience stating, “There is no need to stick to a business that is only bringing losses. At least I can engage in other productive businesses because there is nobody who is willing to come out and hear our cry as farmers.
Christopher Murkomen, another affected farmer, was forced to sell off his entire poultry farm in search of an alternative livelihood.
He noted that the plight of farmers underscores the urgent need for support and intervention from the government.
Poultry farmers in Elgeyo Marakwet County are urging the government to prioritize and support the local production of maize and soya beans, which are critical components of feed production. By encouraging and investing in local production, the government could ensure a stable supply of affordable feed and safeguard the livelihoods of poultry farmers.
The farmers reiterated that as the high cost of feed continued to force farmers out of the poultry industry, immediate action is required to address this crisis. The government, in collaboration with industry stakeholders, needs to explore viable solutions to alleviate the financial burden on farmers and secure the future of poultry farming.
By Rennish Okong’o