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High costs hitting Kenya poultry farmers

Day-old chick shortage and sector inflation also causing problems for industry

Kenya's poultry farmers are struggling with high production costs, including a 50 per cent increase in chicken feed and erratic electricity and fuel costs, according to the Kenya Broiler Breeders Association. The numbers are leading to a drop in profits that is pushing some farmers out of business. A shortage in day-old chicks is further complicating issues, as farmers must place orders and wait up to six months for deliveries.

“This is a crisis," said Muiruri Mbuthi, KBBA coordinator. "There is an acute shortage and when available, the chicks are going for as much as Sh90 (US$1.00) as opposed to Sh50 (US$0.56) six months ago, forcing farmers to import from Uganda."

According to the Kenyan government, inflation has hit the poultry sector, and the national cost of production is now at Sh4.3 billion (US$48 million), up from a three-year average of Sh1.9 billion (US$21.2 million). The Ministry of Livestock Development said the government is trying to come up with a poultry policy that will address subsidies, standardisation mechanisms, treatment and market structures to curb losses and exploitation. In the meantime, the government is urging Kenya to increase domestic poultry consumption to create a ready local market for breeders.