"Last year I had GHC 80,000 in my accounts from the sales of poultry eggs, now the money is finished, I am struggling to feed my birds. I will sell them off in December to raise some money." These were the chilling sentiments expressed by a poultry farmer at Nkonya Ntumda in the 0ti Region.
Mr Emmanuel Amoah-Kpentey, a retired Insurance Manager, after many years of public service, first at the Ghana Airways, now defunct, and later at HFC decided to invest a whopping GHC 300,000 into poultry farming, is certainly struggling with his investment.
The sentiment expressed by Mr Amoah-Kpentey epitomizes the reality facing poultry farming in Ghana where national demand for poultry meat alone is about 400,000 mt with local production just about 57,871mt., a huge shortfall to fill!
Indeed, an indication that poultry farming has a huge potential and a major source of wealth creation, but the realities on theground are scaring; getting the feed to nourished the ever-eating birds iscomplete enterprising.
The retired insurance manager told the writer at his farm at Nkonya Ntumda last week that the skyrocketing cost of feeds over the past six months is having a toll on his investment, as he struggles to feed his bird.
As a strategy to reducethe cost of feeding his bird, Mr Amoah-Kpentey has decided to switch off the lights on the poultry farm at night. Once the lights are on, the birds know no break, they feed and feed and feed!!!
"When the lights are on, the birds eat a lot, they eat 24 hours, I am struggling to raise the money to but the feed," he said.
He said in January he used to buy poultry feed at GHC16, 000 to feed his about 10,000 birds for two weeks, but it is no longer so, as he now has to cough a whopping GHC30,000every two weeks to feedthe layers.
He said cost of maize, oyster, soya beans, wheat and concentrate used for the production of the feed has skyrocketed over the last few months, making his business that he started with a zeal in 2020, with anticipation of windfall, more costly than he ever thought of.
Mr Amoah-Kpentey lamented that he used to collect about 120 crates when he started the poultry farms, but now he hardly collects up to 32 crates, adding that the farm is recording high mortality rates.
This notwithstanding, the poultry farmers who are a major feature in Ghana's agriculture production, accounting for about 14 per cent of Gross Domestic Product,are determined to keep the sub sector alive, as another poultry farmer gives his perspective about the industry.
"Faith tells me to be resilient. I know there are challenges, but such challenges will not be forever, by the help of God, I keep on moving. I have never regretted venturing into poultry farming, and I will never regret, the interest is there though there are challenges," this sums up the philosophy underlying Reverend John Akpaloo's investment in the poultry industry at Teye-Kwame in the Shai-Osuduko District.
Currently hosting over 20,000 bird on his farm, Reverend Akpaloo, has been in poultry farming for 32 years, when he started a backyard poultry at his residence at Ashaiman. Despite the ups and downs, the Full Gospel Church International Reverend never gives up and continues to invest more.
Indeed, to him, he has experienced "the good, the bad and the ugly" from poultry farming and gains new knowledge, skills and motivation each time of his life.
He is currently installing a multimillion dollar five-tier cage system imported from India to improve his farm, as he drifts away from the deep-litter system of poultry farming.
Reverend Akpaloo is full of praise for a local engineer who is working tirelessly to install the cage system, the first of its kind in the West Africa sub region, to enhance production.
The President in 2019, launched the Rearing for Food and Jobs to revamp the poultry subsector and create jobs, especially in the rural areas and improve on farmers' income, but efforts at growing more maize, soya beans to feed the poultry industry have not matched with the pace of the laudable initiative.
And so, the likes of Mr Amoah-Kpentey and Reverend Akpaloo will have to sweat, under high production cost and indeed, consumers, will undoubtedly have to bear the cost of poultry production, through hikes in prices of chicken and eggs on the market, to keep the farmers in business.