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Egg Producers Forced to Leave Industry

by 5m Editor
8 November 2011, at 9:38am

KENYA - High feed ingredient prices are forcing egg producers to look for alternative businesses, including broiler rearing.

Poultry farmers in the North Rift are slowly but steadily looking for other options due to increased cost of eggs production, reports All Africa, citing an item in Daily Nation of Kenya.

If this trend spreads to other parts of the country, Kenya could be looking at importing eggs in future.

Josephine Motari, a poultry farmer in Eldoret has already started scaling down her birds owing to high production costs and low returns.

She says three years ago when she started the project, it was one of the most lucrative businesses but the rise in cost of keeping the birds has eaten heavily into returns.

The cost of a 70-kg bag of chicken feed has shot from 1,670 shillings (KES) last year, to KES2,820 now.

Though the increment has been attributed to higher prices of white maize, which forms the larger component of the feeds, Ms Motari says that percentage increase is too much.

"At least, the price would have been increased by a small margin so that poultry farmers could also benefit," she said.

Farmers have been overburdened by not only the high increase in price of layers marsh but also the decline in its quality.

Leah Magut, also a poultry farmer, says she gave up on layers opting for broilers given the increased cost of maintaining them.

She said: "It is easy to maintain broilers because they don't involve a lot of expenses. I tried layers but I gave up."

A number of poultry farmers interviewed are switching from layers to broilers because of the cost factor.

Broilers are bought when a-day-old at KES80. One then breeds them and sells to hotels or other buyers later.

"I find it easy to manage broilers as opposed to layers that I abandoned late last year owing to high cost of maintenance," said Samuel Maiyo, a farmer in Uasin Gishu County.

Currently, a six-week-old chicken fetches between KES400 and KES450 in Eldoret town. This is expected to increase during the festive season.

Cereal Growers Association of Kenya has in the past urged the government to allow duty-free importation of yellow maize to ease pressure on white maize. Currently, animal and poultry feeds are made from white maize and when its price goes up, it affects those (prices) of feeds.

Ms Motari said egg producers bear the high costs since they are disadvantaged by retailers who buy eggs at a low price from farmers then sell at a relatively high price.

She fetches an average of 750 eggs in a day, translating to 25 trays of 30 eggs each.

According to her, she sells a tray of egg at KES230 as a wholesale price. "The same tray that we sell at KES230, is retailed at KES425, hence exploiting the producer," said the farmer.

A spot check by the Smart Company in various supermarkets in Eldoret revealed that they are selling a pack of six eggs at KES80.

All Africa adds that eggs laid by indigenous breeds of chicken are expensive compared to the exotic ones, but the irony is that maintaining indigenous birds is cheaper than the exotic ones.