Nairobi — A rapid surge in the cost of chicken feeds is forcing poultry farmers to scale down their stock resulting in high eggs prices driven by scarcity.
With the reduced production, most shops and supermarkets are suffering from a low supply of eggs in what has seen the price of the commodity spike by about 30 per cent in just six months.
A spot check by Capital Business at various outlets revealed that a crate of 30 eggs is retailing at Sh570 up from Sh450 mid 2022, a 26 per cent increase.
For a smaller crate of 15 eggs, one has to part with Sh450 while the cost of an egg at small retail shops was ranging between Sh18-20.
According to Kiambu Farmers Cooperative Society coordinator Zachary Munyambu, most poultry farmers sold all their chicken or reduced their stock due to the high cost of running the business.
“The cost of feeds is too high, for instance, a bag of layers which we used to get at Sh3200 (June 2022) is now Sh4200,” he says.
The change in feed prices translated to a 31 per cent spike in six months.
Munyambu noted that the high cost of business is a big challenge for the farmers as it meant getting less returns after spending two times more than they used to spend at the beginning of 2022.
“The main consumer is at the stage of growers whereby you need to buy a 70kg bag of the growers’ mash to feed 1,000 chicken at a cost of Sh3400 for 3 months, after this the eggs you sell are not bringing back the money you use so for some farmers it is better to slaughter and sell,” he said.
He revealed that he had reduced his stock from 5,000 chicken to 1,000 due to the high costs.
Munyambu notes that the government plan to allow the importation of GMO raw materials such as yellow maize and soya could reduce the cost of chicken feed, and hence ease the strain therefore improving business.
Gitau, a poultry farmer in Ruiru echoes Munyambu’s sentiments adding that ever since maize prices skyrocketed last year, chicken feeds also peaked.
He also noted that the cost of rearing one chick was Sh500 for a period of 5 months but it has since increased to Sh800-850.
“If I used to stock 1000 chicks and then sell the eggs, I can’t compare what I used to get as profit in 2021 and now, margins have really dropped,” he says.
This, he says, has seen some farmers reduce their stock or close down completely.
Gitau adds that the high cost of maize has also seen the maize formulation in the chicken feed being reduced thus reducing the quality.
“Even with the high cost of feed, producers are still trying to make it affordable but in doing so the quality is being compromised and thus production goes down,” he tells Capital Business.
“With these challenges, our neighbours in Uganda bring cheaper eggs to the market because their cost of production is lower and we cannot compete because our supply cannot sustain the market.”
He noted that with the importation of GMO raw materials, the cost of chicken feed could reduce and this will be beneficial to both consumers and the farmers.
In October 2022, feed millers urged the government to extend a Gazette Notice allowing the importation of duty-free raw materials in a bid to manage prices.
The extension is yet to be effected.