Major towns hit by shortage of milk, eggs

Njeri Gatheca from Naiposha dairy farm in Naivasha feeds dairy cattle with hay amid an increase in prices of livestock feed by over 50 percent in the last two years. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

The food crisis in the country has deepened with major towns facing an acute shortage of eggs and milk.

The rising prices of dairy and chicken feed have been blamed for the current shortage with farmers shying away from farming after years of incurring major losses.

Further, the situation has been worsened by the ongoing drought coupled with the rising cost of fuel which has seen the prices shoot up by over 40 per cent.

A survey in various towns including Naivasha, Gilgil, Mai Mahiu, Longonot and Suswa established that many shops had run out of the two commodities while others were rationing them.

Farmers are warning of dark days ahead with prices of farm inputs rising by the day, thus reducing their profit margin.

Mr Simon Mureithi, a poultry farmer in Naivasha, said he is barely making any profits due to the high cost of chicken feed.

He said the prices had increased by over 50 per cent with the situation worsened by cheap imports from neighbouring countries.

Poultry and dairy farmers

“Many of the poultry and dairy farmers have reduced their produce due to the high cost of production and we foresee a major crisis in the coming days,” he said.

Mr Samson Njihia, a trader, said they were rationing their sales for the past week to meet the demands of all their customers.

“We have recorded a sharp drop in eggs and milk supply and this has pushed the prices up with farmers unable to meet their demand due to the economic challenges,” he said.

Association of Kenya Feed Manufacturers chairman John Gathogo said the livestock sector was also on its knees due to the current challenges.

He said that already half of the manufacturers had closed down while those in operation had downsized their operations by over 40 per cent.

“The biggest challenge lies in the high cost of livestock feeds which has been caused by equally high prices of the raw materials from neighbouring countries,” he said.

Speaking after touring some dairy farms in Naivasha, Gathogo noted that the only solution lay in going for the GMO crops like soya and yellow maize.

He said getting 100 per cent non-GMO raw material as advised by the government was near impossible and hence the soaring prices that were killing the livestock sector.

“We are petitioning the government to lift the Cabinet memo of 2012 that banned GMO crops in a bid to save the livestock sector that is on its knees,” he said.