By George Munene
In a move that if successful would reduce the cost of feeds by up to 50 per cent, the Association of Kenya Feed Manufacturers (AKEFEMA) is looking to get into a contractual agreement with members of the Cereal Growers Association to tame the ever-increasing cost of animal feeds paid by farmers.
The move will kill two birds with one stone as it will also create a ready market for Kenya’s cereal growers whose cost of production often exceeds what they earn from their produce. AKEFEMA Manager, Dr. Humphrey Mbogua observed that when farmers enter into binding agreements with the end-users of their products, they naturally increase the acreage and eventual earnings as the market is assured.
“Since there will be no import duty for the manufacturers of feeds if the agreement is realised, the prices of maize, sorghum, soya, and sunflower would reduce greatly,” Dr. Mbogua said.
If the intended contractual agreement between the associations comes into fruition, it would be a godsend for local dairy and poultry farmers creating a level playing field for Kenyan farmers within the East African region.
“Ugandan farmers produce a kilogram of chicken at Sh226 due to the affordability of feeds, our local farmer produces a similar amount at Sh311, and with such wide margins, the competition becomes skewed. This disadvantages Kenyan farmers as consumers will always choose cheaper products irrespective of where they are produced since it saves them money, ” Dr. Mbogua noted at a press conference in Nakuru town
Four months into the year, the rising cost of concentrates, from Sh 1750 to Sh2200 for a 50-kilogram dairy meal bag and Sh1850 to 2550 for chicken feeds, has forced up to 20 manufacturers to cease operation as farmers opt for alternatives to store-bought concentrates.
“The price of soya, which is the most expensive of the supplements used in making animal feeds, has gone up to Sh83 from Sh53 at the beginning of December;” said Joseph Karuri, chairman of the Association of Kenya Animal Feeds Manufacturers.
This doubling in the price of soya is expected to hold until May at the earliest.
“The cost of production has become unbearable to some of the millers who have had to shut their businesses as they cannot sustain the ever-rising cost of material,” explained Karuri.