Your favourite chicken dish may come at a higher price than usual this festive season. Farmers attribute the rise to increasing cost of feeds, which they say have shot up. Odette Kagoyire, who owns poultry farms in Kicukiro and Bugesera districts, says most of the chicken mash used in the country is imported from Uganda, Tanzania, Belgium and Kenya.
“Sardines and cottonseed meal and calcium feeds are imported, making them expensive. A kilogramme of sardine costs Rwf1,400 up from Rwf1,500 previously, while the price of soya bean doubled to Rwf600 from Rwf300,” Kagoyire says.
She says she gets just 7,000 eggs per day from her 12,000 layers. She gets 2.5 million eggs bringing in Rwf178.9 million per year. An egg costs between Rwf68 and Rwf70.
Her 12,000 birds consume Rwf525,000 worth of feeds daily, which translates into Rwf191.6 million annually. She says this is a lot of money compared to what farmers earn from egg and bird sales.
Jean Claude Ruzibiza, the chairman of Rwanda Poultry Farmers Association, says quality chicken feeds are increasingly getting out of reach for many farmers because of high prices, a situation that is affecting productivity. The prices have been going up despite fact that government scrapped taxes on imported feeds.
Ruzibiza is, however, optimistic that the government will soon come in to address the problem, noting that over 90 per cent of the challenges will have been solved within two years.
“The association is planning a poultry report survey that will be launched next year in January which will examine the sector and the challenges hindering its growth,” he notes. He said Rwanda is among EAC countries that were identified by a recent American report as having the potential to increase poultry production.
Govt to boost sector
According to the Rwanda Agriculture Board, the government privatised the National Rubirizi Hatchery as one of the measures to improve local production and access to affordable feeds. “The investor is expected to start operating at full capacity from January to ensure poultry farmers get enough feeds by April, 2017,” according to officials.
Factories and chicken feed sellers
According Jean Pierre Shabairo, the sales and marketing manager at Gorilla Feeds, a Kigali-based factory that makes chicken feeds, price hikes are a result of many challenges faced by feed producers in the country.
He says that the recent prolonged drought in the country destroyed crops countrywide, including maize, beans, peas, and soya beans, which forced prices to go up due to scarcity.
“We now have to import from neighbouring countries to make both chicken and animal feeds,” says Shabairo, adding that the feed producers were competing with people for the same produce. Over 90 per cent of ingredients used in making feeds are also used as food for human. They include soya beans, fish and maize. He says the factory production capacity is 60 tonnes per day.
There are four factories in the country that produce chicken feeds in Rwamagana, Kigali, Musanze, and Bugesera. The factories in Rwamagana, Kigali, Musanze have the capacity to produce 7,700 tonnes of chicken feeds annually, but most of them operate at 50 per cent of their capacity due to various problems, according to Ndayisenga.
Cost of chicken feeds
Chick starter for layers is at Rwf350 per kilogramme, while growers mash for broilers goes for Rwf310 per kilogramme, according to Shabairo.
“Government should fix prices of ingredients used to make chicken feeds, including soya beans, to reduce cost of production, which could, eventually, lead to decline in the prices of feed,” he says.
Imports due to low local produce of cereals
According to Herbert Kwizera, the acting managing director of Premier Animal Feeds Industry, a chicken feeds factory in Rwamagana District, the key ingredients are maize, soya beans, and maize bran.
“We also import minerals and vitamins from Holland that we also use to make chicken feeds,” said.
Kwizera says maize is now at Rwf350 per kilogramme, up from Rwf150 the previous season. He says the price is likely to increase to Rwf400 because the crop is not yet available locally. Soya bean price is at Rwf550 per kilo compared to Rwf400 last season, while cotton seed cake price varies from Rwf280 to Rwf400 per kilogramme,” he says.
Cotton seed cake and sun flower are imported from Uganda and Tanzania. He attributes the low supply of maize and other locally-sourced ingredients to the recent dry spell that affected the local maize crop last season, pushing prices up. Only lime and oyster shells are sourced locally and are at low prices.
“We are planning to increase our grain and cereal stocks next harvest season to avoid recurrence of the same challenge in future.”
Better crop next harvest
According to Dr Tresphore Ndabamenye, the head of crop department at Rwanda Agriculture Board, about 810,000 tonnes of maize crop is expected next harvest season from the 270,000 hectares planted countrywide. For soya, an estimated 16,000 tonnes are also expected from 16,000 hectares planted this season. Currently, maize harvest in the country is at 60 per cent, according to Rwanda Agriculture Board.
He is optimistic that the Eastern Province districts of Kayonza, Nyagatare and Gatsibo, which were the most affected by drought will produce a good crop next harvest.
“We gave the quality seeds and fertilisers at the beginning of this season in September and the plantations are currently doing well,” Ndabamenye notes. He says affected districts planted over 200 tonnes of maize seeds this season.