A year ago, Gabby – a poultry farmer at Weija Tetegu in Accra – sold a crate of eggs at GH¢17 or GH¢21, depending on the size of the eggs. But today the same crate is sold at GH¢34. What happened? The poultry farmers say it is due to the increased cost of production.

The farmers, who spoke to the B&FT in an interview, say the cost of feed, medication, veterinary services, labour and other miscellaneous expenses have all gone up in the past year, leaving them with no option but to increase the price of eggs to offset their losses.

Gabby, the farmer quoted earlier, said his nightmare is the fact that prices are increasing not monthly or quarterly but on weekly basis, leaving little room for planning.

“So basically, per 100 birds – thus for broilers – I spend close to GH¢7,000 monthly to raise them; and that is the cost of getting the day-old chicks, medications and feed,” he said.

Another poultry farmer in Accra, Mr. Ninson, expressed similar sentiments, saying the cost of production has now become unbearable.

“We used to buy the feed at GH₵150, but now I buy it at GH₵185. We price our eggs according to the feed because if you have about 240 birds they take, at least, half a bag a day; and so you should make sure their production matches with that of the feed.

If you are not getting it that way, it means you are running at a loss or there is a problem with the fowl.

“Medicines for the birds are now selling at very high prices. For example, Amin Total that we were buying at GH₵120 is now GH₵200,” he noted.

For Mr. Ninson, the lowest price for a crate of eggs at his farm is GH₵26; and the large crates go for GH₵30. He said he cannot absorb all these costs, as he will not get money to pay for feed, labour, electricity, water and other associated expenses.

This has been reflected in the retail prices of eggs, as it has seen an up to 100 percent jump in the course of one year.

Food vendors now sell one egg at GH₵2 compared to GH¢1 a year ago. The raw eggs on the shelves of provision shops are also being sold between GH₵1.20p and GH₵1.50p per one, whereas they were hitherto sold at 70 pesewas and 80 pesewas depending on size. And those who sell cooked eggs with ground pepper, which is usually bought as a snack, also sell one egg at GH₵1.50p compared to GH¢1 previously.

Despite the increase in prices, egg distributors say the challenges farmers face are impacting production as they do not get the quantity they need, thereby affecting sales revenue.

“The profit I make initially has reduced significantly. I used to sell over 600 crates in a week and make a profit of GH₵2 on each crate. And now, because farmers are also complaining that their production cost has increased, they are unable to produce more for us, their clients. Presently, I sell about 500 eggs in a week,” a wholesaler at Mallam, Kuukua Krampah, told the B&FT in an interview.

Poultry Farmers Association cries for help

Chairman of the National Association of Poultry Farmers, Victor Oppong Adjei, has lamented the high cost of production and how it is severely affecting the poultry industry.

Mr. Oppong Adjei said the situation has caused the collapse of about 70 percent of farmers in the poultry industry, leaving others in debt.

As we talk, most of the farmhouses have collapsed. We have few in the system; and even with the few we have, some have reduced their farm size – and for others, we do not know their fate. The situation is very critical as we speak. We do not have the total figures of all farmers, but I can tell you that over 65 percent to 70 percent are currently not in business due to the high cost of production and indebtedness. We do not even know what we are doing now. We spoke about the high cost of feed recently, then we realised the price was coming down; but all of a sudden, the situation has changed. The effect is very critical for the industry now,” he said.

The Association is calling on the government to intervene, as without such action the local poultry industry may collapse.

“We are calling for government’s intervention, otherwise we might get to a time when there will not be a single poultry farm. Poultry is an industry that can create more jobs along the value chain, and in this case, we should not allow it to collapse. We should look at it seriously to know what can be done to revamp the industry.

“Government can support in the form of subsidies on maize; because looking at the maize price, if there is a subsidy it will help keep the farmers in operation,” he said.

Source: Business and Financial Times