Costly animal feeds eat into farmers’ profits

Saturday July 6 2019

feeds

The hike in the prices of feeds has largely been attributed to the high demand for grain, which has been fuelled by trade disruption due to the row between Uganda and Rwanda. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA 

JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
By JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
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The price of animal feeds in Rwanda is on the rise due to a shortage of raw materials in the market raising concern among livestock farmers.

The local market recorded one of the highest prices of soybean, wheat and maize — the most preferred inputs for the animal feeds industry — which hiked the cost of livestock production at the expense of farmers’ profit margins.

A section of farmers who spoke to Rwanda Today said prices for the most sought-after poultry and pig feeds increased by between 50 per cent to 100 per cent in three months from February this year.

Farmers who were buying a kiloof maize for Rwf150 were paying Rwf300 last week while maize-based ingredients that were selling at between Rwf60 and Rwf70 a kilo now go for Rwf170. Soybean now costs Rwf700 a kilo from Rwf300, and has since become scarce in the market together with wheat.

Peter Ngirumugenga, a pig farmer who also produces homemade feeds, said expensive feeds eat into farmers’ earnings from livestock products, which has seen a 20 per cent price rise over the past two months.

“Initially one would expect to get a profit margin of between 30 per cent to 40 per cent as feeds alone took about 70 per cent of our earnings, but as we speak it is even hard to get 10 per cent due to increased costs of feeds,” he said.

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Farmers said they worry that the rate at which the price of feeds has been rising could affect poultry, dairy and meat production across part of the country where a section of the farmers are considering selling some of their livestock.

Mr Ngirumugenga said he could be forced to reduce the number of pigs as a way to cope as he waits for prices of feeds to stabilise.

This is in view of the upcoming July-to-September dry season when demand for grains rises even further.

This is the time when farmers struggle to feed their livestock as the sun dries up vegetation and water dams especially in Eastern Province, the country’s main livestock area. Victor Hategekimana, a poultry farmer in Rwamagana District said that unlike chicken farmers, those rearing pigs, cattle and others could use substitutes.

“For us the loss is inevitable. You currently need Rwf5,000 daily for feeds for 100 chickens when before you would need Rwf4,290. This gets you less than 85 eggs selling at Rwf75 each. These costs result in bad business for farmers,” said Mr Hategekimana.

The hike in the price of feeds has largely been attributed to the high demand of grain due to trade disruption as a result of the row between Uganda and Rwanda which has been ongoing since February.

The June to January 2020 forecasts by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network shows that above-average crop production in Rwanda and exports from Tanzania had partially filled the food supply gap created by the two country’s border closure.

It however said that the price of Tanzanian food imports increased by between 15 per cent to 25 per cent, resulting in the prices of cheaper substitutes to increase.

With no indications that trade will soon be restored between Uganda and Rwanda, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network predicts a continuous deficit of nutritious foods including the grains that serve as raw materials in the feeds industry.

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