The hay glut in Nakuru County has led to prices plummeting by over 200 percent and farmers are now appealing to the government to protect them from exploitation by middlemen who buy and sell hay at huge profits in the Eastern counties.
The Chairman of Hay Producers Association (HPA), Enoch Kiptoo said the glut has been created by a number of maize farmers who abandoned cultivation of maize due to poor prices and started growing hay, hoping for better returns.
He was speaking on Thursday during a press conference in Nakuru town.
Kiptoo said currently a bale of hay, which weighs 17 kg was selling at only Sh.100 compared to the Sh.350 at the beginning of the year but added that those who cannot afford machines for baling it were getting paid only Sh.40.
However, he said the increased number of farmers growing hay has made it difficult for the HPA to control the prices because the new entrants were not registered members, and a number of them were in urgent need of money.
“In the past it was just a few farmers who used to grow hay in Rongai sub-county and they had a wide market from the local dairy keepers, but now even farmers who own as little as five acres are growing hay,’’ he stated.
He urged the county government to assist them built huge warehouses where the hay would be stored whenever there was a glut and be sold to other counties during the dry seasons.
Kiptoo said value addition for dairy feeds was a lucrative sector which has not been exploited and urged young farmers with financial capacities to invest in the area.
‘’Hay can be kept for as long as ten years without getting spoiled or losing its nutritional value but it also requires spacious stores with raised timber floors which most farmers cannot afford to invest in,’’ said Kiptoo.
He added that a number of neighboring counties such as Djibouti with dry climates were starting to encourage dairy farming and he requested the government to assist them access such markets.
By Veronica Bosibori