Milk producers want livestock manufacturers to reduce prices of animal feeds following government’s duty waiver on yellow maize imports.
The dairy farmers say the feeds prices should be reviewed as it contributes to about 60 per cent of cost of production at the farm level.
“We are happy with the decision by President [Uhuru Kenyatta] to waive the duty because it will lower costs.
"However, we are yet to feel the impact of this,” said Mr Richard Tuwei, the Kenya Dairy Farmers Federation chairperson.
The cost of 70 kilogrammes of dairy meal retails between Sh2,200 and Sh3,000 up from less than Sh1500, depending on the protein content of the feeds.
Last Monday, while addressing farmers during the commissioning of a Sh400-million modern UHT production unit at the New KCC factory in Eldoret Town, President Kenyatta said that the move was meant to encourage the country’s dairy productivity and lower cost of production.
“As a country we don’t have enough yellow maize which is usually used to make animal feeds. I have directed that all yellow maize shall be imported duty-free to lower the cost of production and enable our farmers to increase milk production,” Mr Kenyatta said.
Zero-rate dairy products
President Kenyatta also announced that the government will zero-rate all milk and dairy products to make it affordable to consumers as government intervention to increase consumption.
Most dairy farmers in the country practice free range dairy farming, relying on rains for pasture.
The recent drought affected milk production, cutting yields by nearly half. Farmers say by reducing costs, farmers will significantly be able to access quality animals feeds.
“Most farmers and their animals are recovering from the drought and most of them had resorted to other waste products such as rice germ due to shortage of maize,” said Mr Tuwei.
One cow can consume on average six kilogrammes per milking in a day and the cost goes up, depending on the number of herd.
Cost of feeds
Mr David Kipchumba, a farmer from Soy, said he might be forced to reduce his herd should the cost of feeds remain unchanged.
“The cost of feeds is the main challenge to most farmers. Although we are happy with milk prices, I might have to reduce the number of cows from eight to four should things remain the same,” said the farmer.
Mr Kipchumba noted that farmers were forced to sometimes use farm waste due to the shortage of maize.
“We normally grind maize grains due to shortage of dairy meal but now we use wheat bran or maize stalks,” he added.
The government intends to extend the current duty waiver on imported yellow maize beyond August to address the high cost of dairy production.
The announcement followed an inter-ministerial committee on the food subsidy programme met last week and suggested that the duty-free importation of yellow maize should be extended by a year.
The duty waiver was supposed to end August 31 but not enough maize has been imported as the first consignment landed in Mombasa last week.
About six millers have imported 74,150 tonnes of yellow maize. However, animal feed manufacturers last week complained of delays in offloading.
The Association of Kenya Feeds Manufacturers (Akefema) had raised complaints over the delays, saying the move had pushed the price of feeds beyond the reach of many farmers.
Millers have been banking on the yellow maize to process animal feeds following an acute shortage of white maize in the country.