Farmers across the country fear pork production could face a further decline due to expensive feeds weighing on pig farming.
Farmers in Nakuru County say the sharp increase in animal feed is to blame for their predicament which has seen the market face further decline after the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry saw the demand drop.
Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that the number of pigs slaughtered in 2020 decreased by 4.1%, from 413,500 in 2019 to 396,700 last year, as hotels and restaurants where the beef and pork are part of the menu have closed, thus reducing the demand for the merchandise.
With higher taxes, insufficient raw materials used in production, and expensive electricity bills, some farmers in Nakuru County have stopped raising pigs.
It comes barely a week after the East African Farmers’ Federation (EAFF) warned that it will take a few years for the agricultural sector to fully recover from the pandemic.
Poultry farmers have also been affected due to high poultry feed prices and an influx of cheap eggs from neighboring Uganda and Tanzania.
According to Mary Njeri, a farmer from Lanet, her farm is filled with overgrown pigs and piglets due to the current crisis.
She said the problem started after the country was hit by the pandemic in a move that saw their main hotel and market markets closed.
This has driven prices down, with dozens of traders reluctant to buy the animals from farmers, resulting in significant losses.
âOur problem started a few weeks after COVID-19 was reported in the country and since then we have never recovered,â she said.
She added that the prices of 1 kg of pork fell by Kshs. 350 to Ksh. 200 despite the rising cost of feed.
“Many farmers want to get rid of the current batch so that they can move on because pig farming is unproductive,” she said.
Another farmer James Mwangi noted that the only solution was to build a feed factory in the county so that farmers could get them at subsidized prices.
He challenged the county and national governments to consider finding a market for pig farmers, as it did for farmers who depended on the Kenya Meat Commission.
âPig farming used to be one of the most lucrative jobs in the country, but things have changed and farmers are going out of business,â he said.
The National Treasury and the Ministry of Agriculture are expected to issue a framework that will ensure lower prices for animal feed and chicken feed on the issue of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive on Mashujaa Day.