Farmers chuck maize for chickens in Trans Nzoia

Unpredictable rainfall, low prices, costly inputs and crop diseases discourage farmers

In Summary

• Queens and kings Poultry CBO  in Trans Nzoia has turned to due to sky rocketing prices of farm inputs and multiple crop losses.

• Group founder and chairperson said unreliable rainfall and poor yields due to climate change pushed farmers into chicken farming.

The Queens and Kings Poultry CBO  in Trans Nzoia has turned to chicken farming due to sky rocketing prices of farm inputs and multiple crop losses .

The group’s founder and chairperson Julia Kanyi Ngeywa told the Star in Kitale poor crop yields due to climate change pushed farmers into chicken farming.

"Crop diseases and pests such as the fall army worms have sometimes devastated many hectares," she said.

The cooperative society is a chicken farmers group with 1,630 shareholders and 8,800 affiliated members from the five subcounties of Trans Nzoia.

They are farming both indigenous and improved kienyeji poultry.

The members have received training and advice from the National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project and the Agriculture Sector Development.

It was arranged by Trans Nzoia Agriculture CEC Maria Nzomo and Trans Nzoia county commissioner Sam Ojwang.

They ensured farmers of increased productivity, profitabilty an better livelihoods.

She said that malnutrition and rampant poverty associated with maize farming  —and waiting more than nine months for planting  — will be a thing of the past.

Trans Nzoia is known for maize planting for commercial and domestic use and most farmers have recently turned to diversification in sugar cane farming and chicken rearing.

When prices of farm inputs skyrocketed, hopes of many farmers were dashed as the government did little to help with subsidy programmes for fertiliser.

"Rearing chickens is much less expensive," the chairperson said.

She said her group plans to  constructing a chicken slaughter house in one of the sub counties for meat production.

The slaughterhouse will provide a market for met and eggs.

The cooperative society has had problems acquiring feed, medication and vaccination.

The cooperative society plans to import a machine to to produce chickenfeed.

She urged members to immediate separate sick fowl from others to contain a disease outbreak.

It will also ensure birds lay their eggs normal way.

The coop recently held its annual general meeting at the Kitale Nature Conservancy. Members elected officeers and decided to go on bench-marking trips around the country.

"Benchmarking is the only eye-opener towards modern poultry farming. We will do so to attain better standards of rearing for better profits," group secretary Sammy Chirchir said.

He said most of the farmers are rearing mproved kienyeji  varieties from KALRO. They lay many more eggs than other breeds,

Chirchhir said the right setting for a poultry house is important, since birds need a clean environment thatis warm, stress free and has plenty of food.

"We have implored our members and other poultry farmers in Trans Nzoia to maintain high standards to get good profit. Poultry farming is easy and well paying if one follows the simple rules," he said.

Coop member David Waswa told the Star he started rearing chicken five years ago on a small scale but now it's a thriving business.

"My children are finishing school and I can now sustain all their needs unlike when I depended on maize."

The Cooperative now owns more than 100,000 chickens and the eggs are sold to schools, supermarkets and hotels in Trans Nzoia, Bungoma and West Pokot.

(Edited by V. Graham)

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