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Kenyan poultry farmers sound alarm over looming US-Kenya trade deal

Kenyan poultry farmers sound alarm over looming US-Kenya trade deal

Citizen Digital | 15th April 2024

By Citizen Reporter

The poultry sector in Kenya is facing a crisis as stakeholders, particularly small-scale farmers, intensify their opposition to an impending trade agreement between the Kenyan government and the United States.
If finalised, this agreement would allow for the importation of finished poultry products from the United States, posing an existential threat to the domestic industry.

Lydia Wanjiku, a dedicated poultry farmer from Kiamumbi, Ruiru, who owns a flock of 1000 chickens, is among those vehemently opposing the agreement.

For Lydia and others like her, their very livelihoods are at stake. "If this agreement goes through, I’ll be compelled to shut down my business, my customers will suffer, and my investment will be lost because I can’t compete with the influx of imported poultry products from the USA," Ms. Wanjiku expressed at a Farmer Sensitization Meeting in Nairobi.

The Poultry Breeders Association of Kenya presents a bleak picture in a memorandum addressed to Alfred Ombudo K’Ombudo, Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Investment, Trade, and Industries. "The Kenyan poultry sector teeters on the brink of collapse if imports of finished poultry from the United States flood the market, as local producers cannot compete with a developed market," the memorandum claims.

The document also claims that "allowing imports would weaken local producers, result in job losses, stifle growth and economic activity in rural areas, and jeopardise food security, particularly in vulnerable communities. "The advocacy group urges the US Congress and Senate to consider the broader ramifications."

The memorandum meticulously describes the challenges that local poultry producers face, highlighting the significant differences in production costs, standards, and regulations between Kenya and the United States.

Unlike their American counterparts, who benefit from economies of scale and advanced technology, Kenyan poultry farmers face more constraints. The cost of production in Kenya far exceeds that in the United States, making it impossible for local producers to compete on an equal basis.

Moreover, the memorandum underscores the wider implications of mass imports of finished poultry products. This would not only devastate countless small-scale farmers like Lydia Wanjiku, but it would also have far-reaching consequences for Kenya’s economy.

Kenya’s poultry sector contributes significantly to employment, food security, and economic growth. Allowing cheap imports into the market would jeopardise decades of investment and development efforts in the local poultry industry.

Given these compelling arguments, stakeholders in the Kenyan poultry sector urge the government to reconsider its stance on the pending agreement with the USA. They implore policymakers to prioritize the interests of local farmers and businesses by excluding finished poultry products from the agreement.

 source: Citizen Digital