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    A fast-rising poultry firm is out to recruit  farmers a programme that will see them get connected to direct markets for indigenous chicken, commonly called kuku kienyeji.

    Homerange Poultry Kenya will on January 16, hold a training session for 80 farmers, who will be then inducted into a programme that will see them get guaranteed markets for their animals and eggs.  

    Tested breeds

    The company's Chief Executive Officer Ian Mutwiri said the demand for kienyeji chicken in the country has been at a peak almost all-year-round and the available supply is "stressed beyond limits".

    Because of the increased demand, Mutwiri said, middlemen have taken advantage of the situation to exploit those who prefer kuku kienyeji to broilers.
    A chicken that is worth KSh600 and KSh800 ends up costing KSh1,000 or more because of the hungry middlemen, Mutwiri said, making buyers avoid them.
    "Callous cartels have created a false impression that kuku kienyeji are on demand during festive seasons only. They have arrested the Kenyan minds with this notion to justify their extortion."

    "One kienyeji egg requires about KSh5 to produce, while a chicken will take up around KSh350 before maturity. If we have multiple outlets, we can comfortably sell an egg at KSh10 against the current market rate KSh20, which then allows us to compete with the exotic- egg market," the CEO told FarmbizAfrica on telephone. 

    In demand

    Mutwiri said that big hotels in the country have reached out to Homerange looking for regular supplies of kuku kieneyeji.

    “The few farmers on our database are not satisfying the demand, and we must increase the supply chain to feed this appetite," he said.
    Mutwiri said the kuku kienyeji business has to be commercialised just like the broilers business, to ensure there is enough supply of meat and eggs.

    Quality checks

    After the training, Homerange will visit each farmer on the programme to guide them on the set up. The visit will also ensure that the company can always meet quality demands of its clients.

    In addition to giving the farmers advisory support in the production, Mutwiri said his company will link them with ready markets and ensure they fetch the best prices for their produce.
    “Alternatively, Homerange could buy the chicken at an average price of KSh650 and sell them to  high-end customers at KSh850,” he said.

    Charges

    The one-day training costs Sh3,500 per person at Kiambu's Ruaraka town. 

    Homerange is riding on a market that is fast-rising as lifestyle diseases drive people away from broiler breeds, which are stimulated to grow fast.
    "One cannot compare the taste of kienyeji with that of broilers; the nutritional value of the local chicken breed is also quite high. We just need to make the chicken affordable, so that they can compete with broiler supplies," he said.

    Well-stocked
    Homerange currently has 2780 chicken, from which they breed and supply chicks to various farmers. In addition, it trains them on the best poultry husbandry in addition to publishing reading material for enhancing productivity.

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    Interested farmers can call  Homerange through +254 727 200 116 or +254 714 571 048

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    The more than 260, 000 small-scale tea growers in the country will have to pay more for fertilizer after the National Treasury failed to factor in subsidies for  the essential input in the 2015/2016 budget.
    The increment hits farmers hard, barely a month after the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference, which among other concessions, settled that African countries scrap agricultural subsidies.
    Kenya spends KSh3 billion on fertilizer subsidy as well as KSh1 billion on certified seeds.
    In 2014/2015, farmers received a KSh321 fertilizer subsidy per 50kg bag of DAP.

    Failed promises

    Former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei had promised KSh500 subsidy this year, which could have sliced the prices further for the farmers.

     KTDA imported 64, 200 metric tons (1.3m bags) of fertilizer between July and August last year  for distribution across the country.

    A Sang'anyi Tea factory farmer Andrew Chuma told FarmbizAfrica that he had to part with KSh700 extra per bag by the end of 2015.
    "In 2014/2015, we paid KSh1,800 per 50Kg bag of fertilizer. But this year, I have had to pay KSh2,500 for each bag. This is actually eating into our earnings, compounding losses incurred when tea is in surplus, or during drought," he said.

    Chuma, who hails from Nyamira County, said fertilizer prices slightly vary in cost according to the distance from Mombasa to the factory.

    Ministeral conference

    During the WTO ministerial conference held in Nairobi in December last year, ended by securing an historic agreement on a series of trade initiatives.

    Christened the “Nairobi Package”, it contained contains a series of Ministerial Decisions on agriculture. These included a commitment to abolish export subsidies for farm exports, which Director-General Roberto Azevêdo described as the “most significant outcome on agriculture” in the organization’s 20-year history.

     “WTO members — especially developing countries — have consistently demanded action on this issue due to the enormous distorting potential of these subsidies for domestic production and trade,” he said.  

    The agreement was reached at after a number of countries were found to have been using export subsidies to support agriculture exports. The legally-binding decision would eliminate these subsidies and prevent governments from reverting to market-distorting export support in the future.

    Document

    In the decision, developed members committed to remove export subsidies immediately, except for a handful of agriculture products, and developing countries will do so by 2018.

    Developing members will also be allowed to cover marketing and transport costs for agriculture exports until the end of 2023.

    This means that the Sh3 billion Kenya spends on fertiliser subsidies and the Sh1 billion certified seed support can be factored into the budgets of national or county governments until 2023.

    History

    The fertilizer subsidy program in Kenya began in the 1970s, and has implemented by state organs like the National Cereals and Produce Board and KTDA, who have been given the support to sell the product at low prices.

    Aid agencies and Western governments have often taken issue with the practice and in 1980’s there was increased pressure for African governments to drop it, noting the programs discouraged private sector businesses.

    A number of countries dropped their subsidy programs due to the pressure, but some to disastrous consequences.

    Malawi, for instance, followed the recommendations to eliminate fertilizer subsidies, and ended up suffering food shortages in 2005, following terrible harvests. The government later reinstated fertilizer subsidies and good harvests were recorded in following years.

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