Contrarily to expectations, the demand for eggs has stagnated in recent weeks, causing the price to fall, and eventually compelling some farmers to shut down their farms to avoid further investment losses.
The recent egg price and market demand drop come on the heels of ‘improved’ situation during the Christmas and New Year festivities. It was anticipated that the reopening of schools and hospitality facilities could help sustain the egg market revival after a long period of market destruction, that emanated from the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the poultry sector but the prevailing situation has proven otherwise.
The B&FT has gathered that a crate of eggs was sold between GH¢22 to GH¢26 [wholesale price] around December 2020 and January 2021. However, within the spate of weeks, market demand as well as price has taken nosedive. The price now hovers around GH¢14 to GH¢18.
In an interview with the Chairman of Poultry Farmers Association at Dormaa in the Bono Region, Dei Kusi, lamented that the plight of farmers had been compounded by the rising cost of feed inputs, especially maize and soya.
He said as at the first week of March 2021, a bag (50kg) of maize was pegged at GH¢90, indicating that the same quantity was sold at GH¢55 in October last year. The price of soya on the other hand has increased from GH¢145 (50kg bag) in the last six months to GH¢210, he added.
“In view of the reoccurring market destruction and alarming cost of production, birds rearing, particularly layers has become a risky and unattractive venture. We’re running at a loss, plaguing many into huge indebtedness. The situation has forced some farmers to reduce birds’ population or shut down farms indefinitely,” he revealed.
A female small scale farmer, Nana Adoma Yeboah, on her part disclosed that she has significantly reduced the birds’ population from 7,000 to 3,000, adding that “if the situation does not improve soon, I’ll be compelled to sell off the remaining birds. Already, I have cut down the farm laobur size from ten to six. This is not a pleasant situation and therefore appealing to the government to help salvage the situation.”
The doldrums of the poultry sector was heightened by the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Containment restrictive measures of the virus such as closure of schools since March 2020, ban of large social gatherings like funerals and conferences shattered the hospitality business, thus reducing demand for eggs to all-time low to cause egg glut across poultry production areas.
Before the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country, the chunk of eggs were supplied to schools, hotels, restaurants, food vendors like many noodles and fried-egg operators on the streets. Demand and sales of eggs have since not reached where it were despite the reopening of schools, hotels, and restaurants among others.
At certain point in time, the farmers resorted to credit sales, but the buyers were very hesitant to take the supplies. As at May 2020, Ibrahim Musa, 2015 National Best Farmer who produced about 1,500 crates daily for instance, had about GH¢500,000 credit sales locked up.
The trickle-down effect of the prevailing situation in adversely impacting all the value chain actors, including egg truck drivers and farm labourers.