As the December holiday season slowly sets in, many poultry farmers in Kenya had hoped to cash in on the growing demand for their products, thanks to festivities.
However, while the farmers are assured of booming business for poultry meat, a surge in egg imports from mainly the neighboring Uganda has pushed prices to an all-time low.
A tray of 30 eggs in the east African nation is currently retailing at a low of 230 Kenyan shillings (2.25 U.S. dollars) in some regions, down from 2.9 dollars months ago.
“This is painful. It does not make business sense to sell a tray of eggs at 2.25 dollars yet production costs are too high,” Antony Angote, a farmer in Kitengela on the outskirts of Nairobi, said Tuesday.
According to him, there is a huge glut of eggs in the market following increased importation from Uganda, where production costs are lower. Some eggs sold in the east African nation, however, are shipped from as far as South Africa.
A tray of eggs at wholesale price in the suburb and others bordering Nairobi goes for between 2.35 dollars and 2.45 dollars.
In Kiambu, Wangige and Athi River, also on the fringes of Nairobi, the cost of a tray of eggs is at an average low of 2.35 dollars. Things are not any different in Kenya’s other towns that include Kisumu, Mombasa and Nakuru, where there is a glut of egg.
“This has been the average price for the last three months and I do not see things improving even with Christmas just around the corner,” he observed.
Small farmers like Angote, who keeps some 400 birds, have borne the brunt of the egg glut, with the farmer saying he is waiting to dispose of the Kienyeji (traditional) birds during Christmas and switch to broilers, which mature faster.
The town that borders Uganda is among the worst hit, with farmers in the region abandoning the keeping layers as consumers easily gets Ugandan eggs.
Some farmers have blamed the increased egg importation to lack of control at borders, which has seen unscrupulous traders dump millions of eggs into the Kenyans market.
Vincent Munywoki, an agronomist in Kiambu, noted that production costs in Uganda and countries like South Africa are much lower, making their eggs cheaper in the Kenyan market despite being shipped from far.
“What is making things harder for Kenyan farmers in terms of production costs is that the price of feeds is too high. One of the ingredients used in making the feeds is maize, and since the grain is human food – a staple for that matter – this results in competition pushing up prices,” he said.
He noted that one way out of the crisis is for farmers to embrace value addition, by making egg powder that prolongs the shelf-life and the eggs can also be used in cosmetic industry for making shampoo.
According to Association of Kenya Feeds Manufacturer managing director Humphrey Mbugua, Kenyan farmers are facing stiffest competition from meat and egg imports, with the former coming from as far as the United States. Enditem