ZAMBIA - The Zambian poultry industry has risen from a backyard activity to be a large-scale integrated business over the last 10 years but smaller producers are struggling with high input prices.
Skyrocketing prices of feedstocks and disease outbreaks have caused difficulties in the livestock sector, but the Zambian annual chicken production has doubled from 13 million to 43 million, reported the Times of Zambia.
As a consequence, the poultry industry now makes up 42 per cent of livestock agriculture, making it the largest livestock industry in the country.
Chicken is currently the most widely consumed meat product in Zambia, totalling an estimated 50 per cent of total meat consumption, and the rise in prices of beef and other protein products has helped boost demand for chicken in the country.
The Poultry Association of Zambia (PAZ) executive manager Dominic Chanda noted that the sector is expected to grow more than 80 million birds in the next few years due to the number of new entrants into the sector.
“In the past 10 years, we have seen huge investment coming into the country and if you look at statistics, last year alone, the sector produced close to about 68 million day-old chicks and about 150 million eggs,” he said.
He attributed the growth in the sector to the good policy environment by the government and the rise in demand from the growth of the middle income status, adding that the prices of poultry products were affordable to low income earners.
However, the quarterly publication of PAZ noted that the rising costs of feed have left a lot of small and medium poultry farmers considering suspending their farming operations.
Prices of feed have been on the rise through the first quarter of the year following an upward adjustment in prices of key ingredients, as well as the depreciation of the local currency (the Kwacha) against major international currencies.
PAZ national chairperson, Rhodnie Sisala said: “The increase is regrettable, the prices of feedstock has been going up especially in the first quarter of 2015, which may prompt poultry farmers to increase the prices of chicken products, although the increase is expected to be minimal due to current production levels.”
People in the industry believe there needs to be a solution to the high cost of livestock feeds in the country so that the prices of chicken products do not increase beyond the reach of most low income earners.
Zambia National Farmers’ Union president Evelyn Nguleka suggested a solution: “Zero-rate import duty on major ingredients so that prices for chicken products do not rise due to the cost of production exacerbated by the rise in feed products.”ThePoultrySite News Desk