• Prices of animal feed reached a record high in 2021 with most of the animal feed going up beyond Sh3,000.
• The increase is attributed to the scarcity of raw materials for feed manufacturing globally.
The price of animal feeds reached a record high in 2020 with most of the feeds going up beyond Sh3,000.
The crisis is forcing farmers to close their dairy, poultry and pig farms and turn to other businesses.
A 70kg bag of dairy meal has gone up from Sh1,800 in 2020 to Sh3,500 currently.
Chick marsh retails at Sh4,300 from less than Sh2,500 while layers is now selling at Sh3,900.
The Star talked to dairy, poultry and pig farmers across the country who said they have ventured into other businesses.
Jennifer Koome, director of Daiichi Farm in Meru, said the high cost of animal feed could threaten the existence of the farm which has 3,000 pigs.
“We have had a significant change in the cost of feeds. Before we were spending about 45 to 55 per cent on feed alone in pig farming, currently this is has gone up to 65 per cent.
"We are at a loss, we don't know how to run and manage the farm,” she said during a visit to her farm in Meru.
Koome said if the high cost is not addressed immediately, the economy will not grow and food security in the country will be affected.
Zachary Munyambu, a poultry farmer in Kiambu, said many poultry farmers are closing their business due to the high costs of feeds.
He said the cost of a 70kg bag of layers’ mash has gone up from Sh2,600 to Sh3,400, adding that the venture is no longer sustainable.
Munyambu said the cost of producing a day old chick until it reaches five months has increased from Sh550 to Sh850.
“Farmers with more than 1,000 birds can hardly manage to run their venture due to the high cost of feeds.
"Most farmers who do not have capital and are getting out of this farming venture,” he said.
Munyambu said women, youth and retires are most affected as they may not have any other income to fall back to.
The poultry farmer explained to the Star that soya and maize prices have increased since mid-last year with a kilo of soya going up to Sh100 from Sh65.
Maize prices have increased by Sh600, from Sh2,500 per 90kg bag to current price of Sh3,100.
He added that most raw materials including maize germ, vitamins for making animal feeds and also the gunny bags used for packaging the feeds have increased.
“The poultry industry is slowly dying and if no immediate action is taken, Kenya will be a net importer of everything,” Munyambu said.
He added that government initiatives such as the Big 4 Agenda on food security and the Buy Kenya, Support Kenya initiative may not work.
Martin Gatheca a dairy farmer in Naivasha, Nakuru county said he has been forced to reduce the number of his dairy cows from 300 to 150.
Gatheca said he is currently buying a 50kg bag of dairy meal at a high of Sh3,000 from Sh1,800 early last year.
“In order to keep my Naiposha dairy farm running, I have had to grow fodder such as Lucerne grass to supplement the dairy meal feed, however, it is still a struggle,” he said.
Gatheca urged the government to intervene and address the issue urgently.
He says if nothing is done, many dairy farms will close, yet the country still needs the produce.
Feed manufacturers in the country through the Association of the Kenya Feed Manufacturers had petitioned the government to allow them to bring in GMO raw materials.
But through a gazette notice issued on December 10 last year, Agriculture CS Peter Munya exempted import duty on importation of non-GMO raw materials used in the manufacture of animal and chicken feeds.
John Gathogo, publicity chair of AKEFEMA confirmed that the country is currently facing a crisis in the livestock sector.
He said as of now, about 50 feed millers out of 300 millers have closed down their businesses.
Gathogo says the same is happening to livestock farmers who are abandoning their farming projects.
“About 40 per cent of the farmers have either closed down their enterprises or downsised. This is because of the high cost of raw materials that goes into the manufacture of animal feeds," he said.
“Kenya is a net importer of animal feeds including cotton, seed cake, sunflower seed cake, soya and maize (Kenya has an annual deficit of 10 million bags).
"We still have to import maize, vitamin premixes and the prices are controlled by the world market. This has pushed the prices up by about 50 per cent in the last two years,” Gathogo said.
He said a bag of maize which has been going for about Sh2,500 is now going for about Sh3,400 and it is still going up. A kilo of soya sells at Sh120 from Sh60 last year.
During Mashujaa Day, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the Ministry of Agriculture to come up with a formula of reducing the cost of feeds.
Gathogo said there have been initiatives towards that end but they have been divided into three parts of short, medium and long terms.
He explained that in the medium term plan, the government has allowed feed millers to import raw materials which are 100 per cent non-GMO.
“This is where we are having a problem because whatever we are getting from Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia is non-GMO but it is not available. Countries like India and China have flocked the region and mopped out everything.
"Kenyans have been left suffering and the only way we can get materials to produce feeds is from the international front,” Gathogo said.
He added that 70 per cent of what is produced globally is GMO.
On November 18, 2012, the government through a cabinet decision instituted a ban on importation of all GMO food into the country citing health concerns.
“We can only get the European standard of 99.1 per cent GMO. The millers have asked the government to redo that gazette notice so that they can be able to import.
"If we import non-GMO materials, the landing cost will be too high and this cost will be pushed to the farmers. The only solution is to have the GMO ban lifted. This will bring down the cost of feeds significantly by more than 20 per cent.
"Without any intervention, nobody wants to continue incurring losses. We urge the government to ensure that raw materials are made available for the feed industry so that farmers can be saved from total collapse,” he said.
Anne Maina, the national coordinator, Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya says the push by feed manufacturers to have the GMO import ban removed is wrong and ill advised.
She said the cost of production of maize, soya and other by products has gone up globally due to the increased cost of living driven by inflation, and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“There should instead be a push for diversification for example, locusts, termites and insects found locally can be used to enrich the animal feeds.
"Importing unmilled GMOs like maize and soya is a threat as farmers may save some to grow. This will lead to the dilution of our genetic diversity,” Maina said.
(Edited by Bilha Makokha)