By Dennis Agbo
POULTRY Farmers in Enugu state, on Wednesday, carried placards to the state government house and protested multiple taxation on their business activities.
They also lamented the rising cost of maize in the country, which they said was the main raw material for poultry feeds.
Inscription in some of their protest placards read: “Enugu East Chairman stop harassment of farmers,” “Your Excellency stop the multiple taxation,” “Federal government please rescue the poultry industry,” “Ggburugburu safe our farms from illegal levies/ harassments.”
Speaking to newsmen, Chairman of the poultry farmers in the state, Mr. Izuolisa Onu said that as the fourth largest producing state in Nigeria, they were committed to partnering with the state government to ensure food security and sustainability in Enugu state.
“It’s however painful that agencies of government and individuals in the name of local government, especially Enugu East LG, storm our farms to harass and demand several illegal levies and taxes.
“They break and destroy the biosecurity of our farms, threaten and harass farm workers and owners and impound important farm equipment needed for daily operations,” Onu lamented.
On the present scarcity and high cost of maize, the association warned that it was seriously threatening to collapse poultry and may cost the industry millions of jobs if not arrested on time.
“Maize that was N80,000 per a ton in February is now over N200,000 per a ton. The resultant effect is that we have had over 30 percent increase in cost of feeds. A lot of farms have closed down while a huge percentage has scaled down their operations with the attendant lay off of staff,” the poultry farmers disclosed.
One of the farmers, Mrs Nkemjika Uwaezuoke outraged by the alleged exploitations from Enugu East youths said: “Since this year, the new local government chairman unleashed a bunch of touts and we began to hear about youth empowerment levy, we began hearing of site maintenance levy.
“Some of these levies are charged as high as N30,000 not per farm, but per plot. So if you have a farm of about 10 plots you are supposed to cough out N300,000 for youth empowerment levy after paying your regular levies.
“This is mischievous, it is irresponsible and should be condemned. The chairman must be called to order. This is a period every other part of the world are supporting their farmers to make sure that food is not scarce.”