Corn exports partially blamed for spike in chicken prices

Sharp increases in corn and soy bean prices, two major components of chicken feed, are being blamed for skyrocketing chicken feed prices which in turn are causing chicken and egg prices to go up.

Sixty percent of chicken feed is a major reason the price of chicken feed has risen.

A 100 kg bag of corn, which makes up 60 percent of chicken feed, cost 450 birr in July 2016 but now goes for 720 birr. Soy Bean Cakes, which are another ingredient in chicken feed, have risen from 800 birr to over 1,000 birr, in some cases they have risen by 60 percent.

The price increase has caused farmers to ration bird food or mix feed with less nutritious ingredients.

Recently Poultry farmers have been concerned about the prevalence of Marek’s Virus which kills and weakens the immune system of chickens. Corn prices appear to have risen because of recent disease which has affected the yield and exporting the product to neighboring in countries.

Dr Demeke Wondemagne, Ethiopian Poultry Producers Association (EPPA), told Capital that the poultry industry is in trouble.

“We have to come up with a way to control the price of chicken feed or of course the prices of chicken and any dish that uses it as an ingredient will become unaffordable. The prices of raw materials keep on increasing every day and maize is a major example.”

“Vitamins and other items which are used as ingredients to enrich poultry feed are also unavailable. None of these things are produced in Ethiopia. Corn and Soy beans are locally produced, but soy beans are sometimes imported into the country. The foreign exchange crisis has compounded the non-availability of vitamins.”

Dr. Demeke suggested the government help poultry farmers by giving them land to produce corn, which will increase production and reduce the price of chicken feed.

He added that  instead of exporting soy beans and importing its oil from abroad the government should let investors process it here. This  will help poultry farmers to get cheap soy beans to produce soy bean cakes for chicken  feed.

Tsegereda Fikadu, Poultry Development Director said that the government is working to prepare a 15 year strategy on poultry farms.

“We are on the way to implementing a 15 year poultry master plan which will  give land to investors to produce  chicken  feed on a special farm and to guide the sector in a better way. We think that many problems  will be solved when this strategy is implemented.”

Poultry feed and nutrition, seasonality of market demand, lack of technical know-how, poor promotion work, and poor integration among producers are some constraints in poultry sector in Ethiopia. The commercial sector contributes only about 2.56% of the total poultry population and poultry products.