How High cost of electricity will hurt farmers deeply

Electricity forms a key component of agricultural production. It is the main drive from crop production to animal production. The majority of farmers have moved to mechanization as a way of lowering the cost of labour and improving the efficiency of production.

If the proposal by Kenya power to raise the price of electricity by 78 % In April is approved by Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority EPRA; it will mean an increase in the cost of agricultural production by over 50%.

This will affect the food security status of the country despite government efforts to subsidize fertilizers.

This is how agriculture will be hit by increased electricity prices.

1. Increase in cost of feeds and animal by-products

The cost of feeds has been high since Covid 19 hit the country and has been on the rise since then. Feed industries have attributed this to high-cost of inputs and supplements. This has made the cost of dairy, poultry, and piggery farming very expensive for farmers.

The formulation of feeds is done using a machine run on electricity.Increasing cost of electricity means the cost will be high. This cost will be transferred to farmers’ increasing the already high cost of feeds.

The chuff-cutters, lighting for broiler and layers farming, incubators, milking machines, and cold storage facilities all use electricity.

In the long run, it means farmers and processors will have to increase the prices of milk, eggs and meat for them to make any profit. But will consumers buy these products at high prices? No! What will happen is that traders will opt for imports from Tanzania and Uganda which will be cheaper.

Read Also: Factors to consider when buying seeds

2. High Agro-processing cost

Farmers have been encouraged for a long time to engage in value addition on raw products to enhance returns. Value addition in agriculture has created more jobs, especially for youths in agriculture. The machines in use though small use electricity while few are powered by solar and fuel.

Increasing electricity prices will eat up their profit farming margin as it’s hard to transfer the cost to end consumers. Finally, it will push many out of business.

3.Increased irrigation cost

Kenya and east Africa have been experiencing prolonged drought for almost three years in a row now. A massive campaign has been done to sensitize farmers on the importance of embracing irrigation agriculture. It is a form where the farmer provides the crops with water instead of waiting for the rains.

This is through either drip irrigation, overhead irrigation or even canal/basal irrigation. The water is usually pumped to the farming using pumps that use electricity, solar or diesel. The majority of these small-scale farmers use electric pumps.

The increasing cost of electricity to almost double will mean most farmers won’t do irrigation since margins will be very minimal. Large-scale farmers might be forced to cut the production acreage to remain sustainable for the cost of electricity.

Agricultural consultancy

Electricity in itself is a key variable in agriculture. An increase in its cost can push thousands of farmers out of farming increasing the cost of food and inflation.

If a nation wants to achieve the united nation sustainable goal of food security it has to ensure all the variables affecting agriculture are affordable to farmers. These variables are interdependent.

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