Milk producers in the country want manufacturers to lower the prices of livestock feeds following the national government’s waiver of duty on yellow maize imports.
The dairy farmers, who praised President Uhuru Kenyatta’s announcement to waive duty on yellow maize last month, said feed prices should be reviewed as they contribute to about 60 per cent of the cost of production at farm level.
“We are happy with the decision by the President to waive the duty because it will lower costs. But this announcement has not had much effect,” said Mr Richard Tuwei, Kenya Dairy Farmers Federation chairperson.
A spot check shows that the cost of a 70kg bag of Dairy Meal retails at between Sh2,200 and Sh3,000, depending on the protein concentrates. Previously, it cost between Sh900 and Sh1,500.
On June 12, while addressing farmers during the commissioning of a Sh400 million modern UHT production unit at the New KCC factory in Eldoret town, President Kenyatta said the move was meant to encourage the country’s dairy productivity and lower costs of production.
“We don’t have enough yellow maize, which is usually used to make animal feeds. I have directed that all yellow maize shall be imported duty-free to lower the cost of production and enable farmers to increase milk production,” Mr Kenyatta said then.
The President also announced that the government would zero-rate all milk and dairy products to make them affordable to consumers.
“Most farmers and their animals are recovering from the recent drought and have resorted to other by-products, such as rice germ, for animal feed due to shortage of white maize,” said Mr Tuwei.Mr David Kipchumba, a farmer from Soy, said he might be forced to reduce his herd should the cost of feeds remain unchanged.
“Although we are happy with milk prices, I might have to reduce the number of cows from eight to four should things remain the same,” he said.Mr Shadrack Moimett, another farmer, said the cost of animal feeds has gone up drastically, making the venture expensive.
“There was time when we used to buy a bag of animal feed at Sh850 but it has gone up to Sh1,800,” he said.
About six millers have imported 74,150 tonnes of yellow maize. But last month, manufacturers of animal feed complained of delays in offloading at the port.
The Association of Kenya Feeds Manufacturers (Akefema) had raised complaints over the delays, saying the move had pushed the price of animal feeds beyond the reach of many farmers.
Millers have been banking on yellow maize imports to process animal feeds following an acute shortage of white maize.
Most animal feeds in Kenya are made from white maize, which has worsened the food shortage.