Farmers train to generate homemade animal feeds
Njihia Wambugu injected about Sh200,000 in a poultry project one year ago, hoping it would make life easier during retirement.
But he was forced to sell all the birds and close the project just after only eight months.
Wambugu used to collect 30 trays of eggs per week from 300 layers, selling each at 300 and would earn about Sh36,000 in a month from the sale of the eggs alone. But the joy was short-lived. Production reduced to 10 trays. A week later, he could only get 5 trays, yet some young birds also died “I lost over Sh150,000 in the first three weeks of January 2019,” he said.
A veterinary doctor told him that the chicken had been fed on maize bran mixed with indigestible substances like sand. His poultry house in Murinduko, Mwea East Sub County is now empty.
But Wambugu is not alone, thousands of poultry farmers in Kirinyaga County are languishing in poverty due to losses from the incessant adulteration of animal feeds in the country.
The Kenya Bureau of Standards and agriculture ministry officials estimate that over 80 percent of the feeds in the market are contaminated with substances like sand, ash and sawdust.
“Adulterated feeds can kill poultry and animals,” explains Dr. Sabriano Mbae Mbauni of the Kenya Agricultural livestock research organization. (KALRO)
“If they don’t cause death, they stunt the poultry’s growth, leading to low productivity and increase in disease burden, which more than double farm expenses,” he said.
Dr. Mbauni says feed adulteration is widespread, but it is more pronounced in the areas that have a high concentration of poultry and dairy cattle which include Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Muranga, Nyeri and others.
“The problem is made worse by the fact that most feed manufacturers, especially small-scale ones, lack basic training in animal nutrition and feed milling technology.” Dr Mbauni says.
“Feeds account for over 70 percent of farm costs and, therefore, they have a significant effect on the farmers’ production costs and profits. No wonder, many farmers have abandoned the livestock business” he said. “Unless checked, feed adulteration will continue impeding the Government’s poverty alleviation plans,” he says.
Kenya’s animal feeds industry is basically private sector-led, but there is no clear legislation and institutional framework to guide and regulate it.
The government should come up with a policy that provides for the registration and licensing of feed manufacturers, importers and distributors and establishing an effective animal feeds inspectorate; but so far no action has been taken in this direction.
Only recently, the County Government of Kirinyaga provided Sh30 million for the setting up of a small animal feed factory at Kiaga. The factory is an answer to farmers concerns who have been complaining of the decline in milk production even as they feed their animals with commercial feeds.
Kirinyaga governor Anne Waiguru says the factory will produce poultry, fish and other animal feeds and give farmers the much desired quality feeds.
Mbauni advises farmers to be vigilant and start on-farm feed mixing to get rid of the unscrupulous farm feed manufactures taking advantage of them. Already, he says they have trained farmers in Kiambu, Machakos and Kirinyaga on how to use the locally available materials in making up their chicken feeds.
He said the project supported by the Korea Project on International Agriculture (KOPIA), is already posting positive outcome. KOPIA, Kenya Director Dr. Kim Choong Hoe Kim said his country will increase funding towards the project now that the beneficiaries (farmers) have shown commitment into the course going by the success witnessed so far.
The project seeks to enhance indigenous poultry production and marketing for poverty alleviation and improved food security among small holder households.