THE Poultry Association of Zambia says farmers are struggling to cope with the increasing cost of production compounded by the continued load-shedding and the kwacha’s depreciation.

PAZ executive manager, Dominic Chanda, said poultry farmers continued experiencing hardships in the sector brought on by heightened load-shedding and were struggling to survive amidst increasing costs of production, which are dampening growth prospects in the industry.

“The cost of production has actually been increasing. We have seen the prices of stockfeed being increased in the past two months almost three times. Load-shedding has contributed immensely in the sense that most of these feed millers are now using the most expensive sources of energy, which is diesel so it is becoming extremely difficult,” he said in an interview.

“I have just been having a meeting with one of the farmers from Mkushi, who was complaining to say ‘I don’t know whether I will be able to buy the next batch’; the reason is the high cost of doing business which people cannot cope with, and coupled with resistance by consumers to price increases.”
Chanda added that the weak kwacha, which had depreciated by 35 per cent since January this year, had negatively affected the pricing of stockfeed.

“A major factor that has contributed to that is the issue of the exchange rate because most of the inputs in the stockfeed are quoted in US dollars, so if you have an exchange rate that is not stable, you expect such increases. A year ago, when the kwacha was almost K6.80 [per US dollar], the cost of broiler starter was about K140 [per 50Kg]. When you take into account the current situation, the price of broiler feed should be around K220 – K230,” he observed.

According to latest PAZ data for the week ending September 11, 2015, there were several upward adjustments in the price of live birds in most districts due to the increase in the price of stockfeed.
“The price of stockfeed in most towns rose during the week due to the continued devaluation of the kwacha as well as high cost of production coupled with long hours of load-shedding,” read PAZ’s weekly bulletin in part.
The average price of a frozen whole chicken in Lusaka also rose to K18.80 in September 2015 from K17.00 in June 2014, according to PAZ data.