More than half a million broiler chicken farmers in Kenya say they have been forced to scale down their operations, due to dumping of processed chicken by farmers from neighbouring Uganda.
Through their lobby group, the farmers add that lockdown of boarders further affected their market due to restriction effected in eateries and fast food joints, mainly those that operate 24/7.
“Because KFC, Chicken Inn’s and other takeaway restaurants are closed by 9pm, and the sale of hot foods banned during lockdown, chicken producers have lost a big part of their regular market. In addition, many people can’t afford to buy meat anymore, due to job losses,” argued Kiambu Poultry Farmers Cooperative Society Director Zack Munyanbu.
Munyambu added, that it is frightening to consider that in this challenging situation, Kenya poultry farmers must compete with tax free chicken from EAC countries. Uganda is dumping over 100,000 kgs of chicken in Kenya every month.
“For every farmer who goes out of business or who have to scale down operations, workers lose jobs and become poorer. Kenya has such high unemployment figures already – we cannot afford to sit back and allow dumping to destroy an industry that employs thousands of people and produces food for the nation. A country that starts depending on imported food instead of producing enough food to feed its own people, is playing with fire. Food security cannot be sacrificed. We cannot sacrifice our own people’s jobs,” Munyambu argued.
Arthur Kimani a farmer in Wangige said, “we raise 55 000 chicks every 32-day cycle on behalf of a big producer, who buys these birds a back from us. If the market is weak the producer might scale down the number of cycles in my calendar. This would affect my business and my 12 full-time workers risk losing work, because with fewer cycles I might not be able to afford all of them.”
“We have to stop dumping and we have to stop it now. Our government has to speed up the processes for getting tariffs in place to discourage dumping. We have to prioritise our own food producers for the sake of our own food security in this country. Covid-19 is changing our economic outlook and we have to take the necessary precautions to protect ourselves as a nation.”