Poultry farmers said animal feed is too expensive and continues to be a major constraint on poultry productivity, farmers said.
In an interview with The New Times, Andrew Butare, the president of the Rwanda Poultry Industry Association, said feed for laying hens, for example, currently costs Rwf560 per kilogram, an increase of about 65 percent from the Rwf340 it cost three years ago.
“The high cost of livestock feed is a major problem for us poultry farmers,” he said, indicating that feed accounts for about 70 percent of the inputs required in poultry production.
Butare said the price of feed affects the productivity of poultry and the consumption of their eggs and meat as sources of animal protein in the population.
“This (high cost of feed) increases production costs, which makes poultry products more expensive. As a result, fewer people can afford them, narrowing the market base,” he suggested.
Eggs actually cost Rwf 200 in some parts of Kigali, up from Rwf 100 three years ago.
Talking about the reasons for the increase in feed prices, Butare said they include the limited supply of maize and soybeans in the local market and the Russian-Ukrainian war, which has caused an increase in fuel prices and transport costs.
Mathilde Mukasekuru, Ag. The Director General in charge of Livestock at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources said there has been an improvement in farm productivity in Rwanda, although there are still challenges especially with expensive feed.
She also said: “There are problems in terms of farmers’ market access for their poultry products [including eggs and meat] because the price is somehow high due to expensive feed.
Mukasekuru was speaking on Radio Rwanda on Tuesday, October 4, about Poultry Africa 2022, the continental poultry exhibition that is being held in Rwanda from October 5-6.
Jean Baptiste Musabyimana, CEO of Agri-Business Solutions (ABUSOL Ltd) – a Bugesera-based poultry farm with over 100,000 chickens producing over 70,000 eggs per day – said professional/commercial poultry farming is relatively new in Rwanda , however, indicating that it is growing.
Musabyimana, who is also the coordinator of Poultry Africa 2022, pointed out that livestock feeding is the main problem affecting farmers at present, linking the high cost of feed to the expensive raw materials needed to produce it.
He said maize costs Rwf 600 per kilogram while soybean costs Rwf 900.
“I think there are other strategies that should be designed to keep animal feed prices down,” he said.
Efforts to reduce feed costs
Mukasekuru said the problem of expensive animal feed has been there for a long time and has been increasing steadily with the passage of time.
She said that even food for human consumption is expensive, yet it is used to make feed for farm animals. These include corn, soybeans, rice, and sardines (fish).
“All of these ingredients are expensive at the moment and that’s one of the factors that makes animal feed expensive,” she said.
Among measures to address the problem, Mukasekuru recommended increasing agricultural production and feed storage capacity, especially at the industrial level.
“It is to encourage feed factory owners to set up enough storage facilities so that in case of harvest, they can collect and store for a long time to get the necessary raw materials to produce animal feed,” she said.
She also said that other strategies may include linking poultry farmers with financial institutions to provide them with loans at low interest rates to help them obtain animal feed.
In addition, it said the government waived the 18 percent value-added tax on imported raw materials for feed production.
“These are all measures to reduce the cost of animal feed and ultimately livestock or poultry products,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mukasekuru said ongoing efforts are underway in the country to utilize black soldier fly larvae as an alternative and affordable source of protein for poultry feed and that there is hope for productivity.
Figures from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources show that feed factories in Rwanda currently produce over 60,000 tonnes of commercial poultry feed annually.
The country also now has 27 large commercial poultry farmers raising 20,000 to 70,000 layers, 258 medium-sized poultry farmers with 5,000 to 20,000 layers, and 265 small commercial poultry farmers raising 1,000 to 5,000 layers.