The scarcity of poultry feeds including maize bran, rice bran, cotton seed cake and wheat bran has hit the Ugandan poultry industry hard, even forcing some farmers out of business.
Esther Genza, an employee at Kagodo Feeds, says the industry's biggest challenge has been the scarcity of maize and maize bran. "Towards the end of last year, a 100 kilogramme bag of maize cost Shs70,000. It now costs between Shs140,000 to Sh150,000," she said, attributing the rise to the exportation of maize to neighbouring countries and that the problem is compounded by the relatively stable prices of chicken products.
"It is very hard to increase the price of a tray of eggs or chicken because the market response is poor. Few people buy at higher prices," she says.
Aga Sekalala Jnr, who runs Ugachick, one of the leading poultry companies in the country, agrees; "In February, we used to buy a kilogramme of maize at Shs480 but today, a kilogramme goes for Shs1,650. There are inputs that we have to import like breeding facilities and this automatically increases the cost of doing business."
In a week, Sam Mukasa, Director of Biyinzika Farmers, one of the leading poultry farm enterprises in the country, would on average sell 400,000 day-old chicks. But today, he's resorted to selling eggs for the chicks are no more, resulting in a loss of up to Shs2.4 billion between June 1, and the end of the first week of last month.
"Instead of hatching chicks for sale, I sell the eggs at a lower price. The rising dollar rate continues to affect me because I have to import vaccines and yet the loans that we get are serviced in dollars. This is in addition to operational costs. With the constant power black outs we have to use generators and diesel isn't cheap," Mukasa explains.
As a way forward, says some farmers have resorted to selling off the birds at giveaway prices especially the layers because they cannot afford the cost of maintenance, with other farmers actually exchanging eggs for feeds.
In some situations farmers have opted out of the business citing tough conditions with some venturing into piggeries as an alternative.
Source: The Monitor