Kenya: Farmers embrace homemade food as commercial food prices rise
Eldoret – With commodity prices soaring from fuel to food and other essentials in the country, the dairy and poultry sector has not been spared with a liter of milk for at least Sh70 at the price of retail from Sh60 and a tray of eggs going for Sh380 from Sh330.
For this price to get to this point, it all starts with the farms where these animals are raised, what they feed on and the care that is given to them, which means that if the cost of production is high, the cost of the products will increase.
However, the resurgence of this phenomenon cannot be independently attributed to fuel prices alone, although it has been labeled as the main external contributor as it affects all sectors. The opening of the East African market where goods from neighboring countries are imported, tax-free, has also been an obstacle, as evidenced by the various chick vendors in Uasin Gishu county who import the chicks they buy from neighboring Uganda at Sh60. per chick and sell them for Sh100.
According to the Uasin Gishu County Livestock Department, price control is not under their jurisdiction, but rather for them: “We have worked to ensure that we educate farmers so that they learn the ways to develop feeds locally on farm feed formulation on defining ingredients such as seed cake, wheat bran and sunflower, as well as locally grown and sourced products such as silage and sardines for proteins,” said Simon Langat, Livestock Development Manager.
The department screened farmers on the specific ingredients and quantity to use for a well-balanced diet of necessary nutrients in feed, which will reciprocate animal production. The department further guides farmers on economy of scale where they are guided on valuation based on the number of heads of cattle found on the farm to avoid breeding losses on their farms.
Farmers in the county also have several cooperatives and special interest groups, where the department makes group approaches to reach them as it cannot make an individual visit to each farm. This is evident in the different areas like Kapseret where they sell locally produced food which has been standardized by the office. Farmers are also encouraged to adopt food production on their farms.
The department has, however, adopted an initiative called: “Operation Maziwa liter Kumi”, an initiative to ensure that farmers’ cows produce at least 10 liters of milk per day. The operation focuses on fodder production on local farms, general farm management and training of farmers in their based cooperatives. The operation is envisioned to increase the milk supply in the county, which will in turn facilitate the local production and consumption of dairy products.
A spot check of various stalls in the town of Eldoret sheds some light on why the department is encouraging local production of dairy and poultry feed simply because a 70kg of dairy meal ranges between Sh1,800 and Sh2,300 in based on the business the vendors get their feed from a 50kg bag of chick mash ranging from Sh2,700 to Sh3,300 and a 10kg bag ranging from Sh600 to Sh750 depending on the manufacturers of the given food.