KWS 'overwhelmed' as Kenyans rush for quail farming

Northern Bobwite quail breed at a farm in Nyahururu. About 200 farmers are applying for quail rearing licences every day even as the quail farming bubble seems to have burst. Photo by Charles Kamau Regards,

What you need to know:

  • Sources indicated as much as 3,000 licence applications had reached the KWS desk.
  • Another source indicated that farmers were now approaching KWS asking where they could sell their eggs and birds following a surge in the market.
  • By December last year, a single quail egg was retailing at between Sh100 and Sh70 but it is now selling at between Sh20 and Sh30.

About 200 farmers are applying for quail rearing licences every day even as the quail farming bubble seems to have burst.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said Thursday it had been overwhelmed by the number of farmers seeking licences to rear the wild bird.

“Every day we are receiving about 200 requests and when you visit our office, you would think we are holding a conference,” KWS Licensing Officer Lucy Muita told Daily Nation.

“We are overwhelmed by the high number of farmers visiting us here but we are doing our best,” she said adding that so many Kenyans were now interested in the trade.

She however did not reveal the total number of requests pending but sources indicated as much as 3,000 licence applications had reached the KWS desk.

Another source indicated that farmers were now approaching KWS asking where they could sell their eggs and birds following a surge in the market.

But Ms Muita said issues of production and marketing were not the responsibility of KWS but other stakeholders like Ministry of livestock and the Export Council among others but advised farmers to explore the local market.

“Kenyans want to do business and we cannot deny them the chance,” she said and took a swipe at the local media for disparaging the business by referring to it as a “pyramid scheme”.

A licence allowing one to rear quails costs Sh1, 500 annually and KWS officials must inspect the cages where the birds are to be reared to ensure they are safe and kept in humane conditions. They also do impromptu visits.

MARKET SATURATION

The price of the birds and its eggs has continued to plummet with some farmers now at a loss following saturation in the market. There are concerns that there is no local demand for the tiny birds or their tiny eggs.

By December last year, a single quail egg was retailing at between Sh100 and Sh70 but it is now selling at between Sh20 and Sh30.

A day old quail chick is now going for an average of Sh160 from a high of Sh400 within the same period.

With news that the eggs have huge health benefits and are on high demand especially in China, most chicken farmers have opted to rearing the wild birds which they said are cheap and easy to manage.

The Daily Nation managed to speak to several farmers dealing with quail farming and they admitted demand for the eggs and chicks had drastically gone down.

Mr Joseph Wainaina Muturi who rears the birds at Juja said he is now selling his eggs at Sh30 each.

“I have heard there is a market in China but I am yet to get a dealer to sell to in China, I have now opted to selling the eggs at Nairobi City Centre,” he said from Thande his latest selling point.

The farmer said a day old chick is now selling at Sh200 in his home area but said while he began rearing the birds on November last year, he bought each chick at Sh350.

Another farmer Mr Jose Njoroge from Wangige village in Lower Kabete, Kiambu County said he was selling a day old chick at Sh160 adding that he was also offering hatchery services at Sh25 per egg.

“Although the market prices have gone down, quail rearing is still cheap as they eat very little and are not demanding,” he said.

‘QUALAMID’ SCHEME

Kenyans on social media have also taken a jibe on the new craze terming it as 'qualamid scheme’ in reference to the pyramid scheme which saw Kenyans lose millions.

A social media user who identified himself as Festus Ihwagi quipped “this is just short-lived. Seriously, how many can afford Sh70 for an egg to eat regardless of 'how nutritious’ it is?”.

Young Mulah said “those already doing it will make money in the short term selling to newcomers. The newcomers will burn their fingers with those tiny birds”.

But Elizabeth Museo Muema disagreed saying quail farming was not a pyramid scheme “as long as it is a consumable and it has a market for both eggs and meat,”

Another Kenyan said “our parents and grandparents used to consume it while in the wild. The only difference is that, now, we are domesticating this bird and selling its products to make a shilling on the side. To me this is a good business opportunity and a venture to enter into”.

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