Farmers and feed makers call for action as poultry imports flood the market
Poultry farmers and feed manufacturers are crying foul after cheap imports allegedly from the US were shipped into the country weeks ago.
An estimated 20 tonnes of poultry meat is suspected to have been imported into the country two weeks ago from the US through Zanzibar.
Dr Humphrey Mbugua, Association of Kenya Feed Manufactures manager, said that the importation of the cheap poultry parts threatens to push local farmers and feed manufacturers out of business and also poses health risks to unsuspecting consumers.
“American consumers, for instance, prefer boneless breast meat rather than whole chicken. Therefore, the remaining poultry parts are exported to Africa, where people prefer on-bone pieces like leg quarters, wings and paws (feet),” Dr Mbugua said.
He noted that while import tariff impositions may not completely eradicate product inflows from low production cost countries, Kenya requires guidelines on fair trade to safeguard local farmers and traders.
“Some countries have free access to the Kenyan market but restrict our poultry from accessing their markets so we need to level the playing ground,” he said.
Uganda and Tanzania are other sources of poultry products for Kenya.
Brewer, firm in machinery deal
Farm and construction equipment firm Quipbank has partnered with Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL) to provide agricultural machinery on a rental basis to sorghum farmers.
The partnership will see farmers contracted by KBL access tractors, planters, ploughs, air seeders, boom sprayers and harvesters at an affordable fee.
The availability of such machinery will result in further mechanization, better cost management and increased efficiency, according to the SME’s commercial manager John Mogire.
“Improved sorghum production is key for economic growth through the utilization of rare resources in product manufacturing.
“The cereal is also a major food grain in Africa and has both food and animal feed benefits. Our mission is to mechanize agriculture by availing farming equipment to farmers to boost production and curb starvation”, he said.
KBL is currently working with over 12,000 sorghum farmers in the lake region with a prospect to recruit 3,000 more farmers in the coming season.
Demand for sorghum has shot up since the commissioning of the Kisumu brewery plant by president Uhuru Kenyatta in July 2017.
Construction of the Sh15 billion plant was completed on Tuesday and pilot tests have been done awaiting an official launch before the end of the year.
“We will employ a sustainable methodology of sourcing for sorghum from farmers in Western Kenya to boost production,” said KBL managing director Jane Karuku.
The company aims to increase the production of Senator Keg beer made from sorghum which has led to increase in sorghum demand from 20,000 metric tonness to 60,000 metric tonness annually in the next five years.
Overall, KBL sorghum project is expected to benefit over 45,000 farmers in the coming two years in over 10 countries.
The government is also keen on improving sorghum production to promote food security, in line with the Big Four Development Agenda.
For large scale production, farmers need to mechanise agricultural activities and reap from the ecopnomies of large scale at the same time cutting input costs. Quipbank has come to their aid.
Report shows Kenya is a big food importer
In the past three decades, food availability per capita has declined by more than 10 per cent despite formulations of various agricultural policies, a report on food situation in Kenya shows.
The Zero Hunger Strategic Review launched on the World Food Day in Nakuru County this week, notes Kenya is one of the biggest food importers in East Africa.
Agriculture chief administrative secretary Andrew Tuimur, however, noted that 25 per cent of all agricultural digital innovations in the continent are started in Kenya.
“This shows that Kenya has all it takes to achieve food stability,” he noted.
The report says irrigation farming in Kenya is limited and water resources are unevenly distributed, leaving many farmers highly vulnerable to droughts. The country has also experienced severe drought between 2011 and 2016.
Other factors that have contributed to low productivity include land degradation and soil fertility loss and low mechanisation. Dr Tuimur said Kenya is keen on improving is food security.