Most layer farmers are now feeling the pinch of excess eggs in the market and the low prices. In some instances, there has been street demonstrations and protests against influx of eggs from neighbouring countries. I have visited layer farms and I do empathise with our farmers who have devoted their time and resources in this business and are now forced to sell eggs at dismal prices to minimise losses. There is light at the end of the tunnel though as egg prices have started to improve and farmers should take this opportunity to restock their poultry sheds to avoid shortage of eggs in 4.5 months from now.
As we recover from this period of excessive glut in the egg market, farmers must learn some facts about poultry farming and market dynamics and the need to come together and work as a united front.
It is high time farmers especially egg producers came together and formed strong National Poultry Association. Such association will deal with the following pertinent issues:
Training and development
Work towards training and developing new poultry farmers and re-alignment of the old farmers to embrace new technologies and precision farming methods to get maximum out of the inherent genetics of the breed.
Share information and technology, statistics are powerful tools
Gather national poultry statistics and share with members, these include but not limited to knowledge on weekly national day-old chicks’ production, total number of point-of-lay pullets, annual projected laying flocks, forecasted egg production, number of depopulated spent hens and national feed consumption. This knowledge is important in understanding the market trends and managing consumer expectations promptly and speedily, you will be able to align your production to market demands at different periods of the year.
Participate in drafting favourable agricultural policies
Participate in drafting of agricultural policy papers touching on poultry production for the benefit of farmers through public private participation. You will be able to push for establishment of Poultry Board of Kenya just like we have Dairy Board of Kenya that specifically deal with farmers concerns at a national level.
Health and food safety
As an association, farmers will work with State veterinary department on veterinary health and food safety matters that can impact the industry, work with State authorities to help in disease surveillance and monitoring to protect the livelihood of farmers and consumers.
Lobby the Government for industry protection
Lobbying against dumping of cheap products from big producers and unfair competition within the member Comesa countries, as an association you are better heard as a group rather than working as individual farmers.
Support Tariffs that encourage trade and free movement of poultry products
Negotiating with county and national governments on some of the negative tariff barriers that are punitive to poultry farmers and discourage trade within our borders.
Form strong links within the value chain and adopt strategies that reduce cost of production
Work closely with your feed supply that make up 70 per cent of the cost of poultry production and look at alternative cheap sources of poultry diet and improve on efficiencies to get the best of the poultry genetics.