WINDHOEK, June 16 — Early this year, Anderek Shigwedha, a poultry farmer in northern Namibia, was hoping for growth in his small-scale venture. But now, rampant inflation and price spikes are straining the production capacity to rear chickens.
Shigwedha is one of the many small-scale poultry farmers in Namibia facing tougher challenges as commodity prices continue to spiral. The annual inflation rate for May 2022 stood at 5.4 percent, up from 3.8 percent recorded in May 2021, according to recent statistics from the Namibian Statistics Agency.
Shigwedha said times are hard for farmers since the price of chicken feed has almost doubled. With margins already low, this forced him to downscale production.
“I can not afford to feed all the birds nor procure more. As a result, I reduced the number of birds and decided to instead focus on layers and selling eggs to keep afloat,” he said.
Trimming has since disrupted the supply chain, with Shigwedha losing clients as he could no longer keep up with the initial demand.
Many poultry farmers also tell a similar tale. Gustav Unona, who has been in the business for nearly eight years, said that challenges have snowballed over the last year.
Apart from the high cost of chicken feed, delivering their products to clients has taken a heavy financial toll on the farmers. The annual inflation rate for the transport category continues to be the main driver of the overall inflation, official data shows.
“Delivering eggs to clients is expensive. Hence, we charge for delivery, which increases the actual product cost. Sometimes this discourages locals who are also looking for bargains,” he said.
Meanwhile, to offset the cost, Unona turned to traditional grains of crops such as pearl millet and maize to supplement the feed sourced commercially from retailers.
“But even that becomes a battle between feeding the household or the chickens,” Unona added. Moreover, the chances of expanding business and growth are low.
Despite the challenges, farmers are persevering to stay in business, and have been calling on the government for support.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Water, and Land Reform initiated various programmes to stimulate access to markets for small-scale producers, particularly through the value chain development of the poultry scheme.
Petrus Thiyemo, a chief agricultural scientific officer in the agriculture ministry, said that offers under the scheme include capacity building, feed provision, subsidies, veterinary medicine, and critical goods in the poultry value chain.
“Since the scheme’s inception in 2021, more than 2,000 farmers have benefited. The number is expected to grow significantly,” he said.
In the meantime, the Ministry of Industrialization and Trade is also set to develop poultry industry standards to enable local producers to export to regional markets and beyond.
“In the absence of the standards, local poultry farmers cannot export their products to other markets. Once in place, the reform would give them space to trade,” Rebekka Shiimi, MTI trade promotion officer explained.
The government currently limits the importation of poultry and poultry products into the country to 1,200 metric tonnes per month to offer a competitive market for local producers to supply the domestic market. (Xinhua)