War. Wheat prices. What next?

In the latest issue of Pig World, Flavian Obiero, based in Upton Grey, Hampshire, considers the outlook for young pig farmers in an industry that is under increasing pressure on multiple fronts.

Some days I feel like I’m living in a Netflix chart-topping film with all that’s going in the world currently.

I’m wary of turning on any news channel and I’ve opted to keep my head down as much as I can get away with for the sake of mental wellbeing.

As a staunch logical, problem solver, I struggle watching people suffering and not being able to do anything substantial to help them. One thing all this has reminded me is perspective. Regardless of how bad things get/are, there are people in significantly worse situations. Their strength and resilience inspire me to keep going no matter what!

In 2020, I remember feeling very smug after locking in feed prices for the whole year. I don’t know what possessed me to do so but it paid off quite well. Today, I sit here wishing I’d done the same thing this year. I’ve got contract prices until April; after that it’s going to be pretty bleak to say the least.

Along with increasing fuel prices, I do not see how the rise in wheat prices (and other feed raw materials) is sustainable. Cost of production isn’t far off 200p/kg, with outdoor producers certainly being well over this.

Meanwhile, at the time of writing the price of finished pigs is still chilling at 141p/kg. How are we expected to operate like this? Waking up in the morning, mucking out, feeding, fixing repairs etc, then going home after work knowing you’re making a loss of approx. 60p/kg is beyond sickening!

There have been a few faint signs of the government thinking about doing something with inquiries about supply chains soon to be launched. Despite being grateful about these gestures, they are running on ‘African time’ in my opinion. Whilst people are dithering and thinking of how/when to act, farmers are losing eye-watering amounts of money.

With all these increments in energy, fertiliser, grain & labour costs, it makes more sense for our government to boost & support our food production to reduce reliance on imports and increase our food security.

Yes, other industries are facing the same strain as we are, but we are producing food, for crying out loud! We can have everything ticking along seamlessly in the country but without food, we don’t have much of a future.

Is The Kenyan Pig Farmer still optimistic about the future of our amazing industry? Does a bear defecate in the woods?

The fact that we’re still ordering feed, stock replacements and fuel means that in our subconscious, we know there is a future ahead; what it looks like is a different story.

Extreme change in circumstances, which is essentially what we’re currently experiencing, almost triggers a fight or flight response.

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