By Ezekiel Ibrahim
THE poultry industry in Nigeria is a rare success story in the commercialisation of agriculture. It is a completely private sector driven subsector of the Nigeria economy with a contribution of over 25 percent to the Agricultural Gross Domestic Product (AGDP) of the national economy. The current worth of the industry is over N10 trillion.
It engages over 20 million Nigerians in direct and indirect employment, providing the families with cheap protein sources while sustaining family livelihoods.
Over the last 18 years, the poultry industry has grown to become the number one Egg producing nation and the number four in broiler meat production in Africa with additional local and foreign direct investments.
In the post Covid-19 and the lockdown that followed, the poultry industry has suffered devastating losses occasioned by the restriction of movement of goods and services which include Eggs, Day Old Chicks (DOCs), Poultry feeds and other essential inputs for poultry production. Billions of Naira were lost in sales of Eggs and chicken resulting in the closure of many small and medium size poultry farms.
With the attendant fallouts and the GRAINS supply situation in the country, the prices of Maize went up from N95, 000 per ton to N165, 000 per ton in June, 2020.
The government supported the industry with the release of 5,000mt of maize at subsidized prices expecting that the price of maize will fall or stabilize during the harvest season. Maize as at today, 26th November, is selling between N145, 000 – N160, 000 per ton as against the price of N85, 000 per ton this time last year.
More worrisome at the moment is the Soyabeans supply and demand situation in the country. There is the scarcity and near absence of Soyabean in the Nigerian markets at this period of harvest. The reasons being adduced as responsible for the scarcity and high cost is the insecurity in the country, climate change and activities of traders buying and hoarding the grains: Soyabeans and Maize. Intelligence and field reports have also indicated that the Soyabeans in seeds and meals are being exported out of the country thereby causing the present crisis being witnessed.
Soyabean is selling between N215, 000 – N250,000 per ton as at today where available.
The poultry industry feed cost is about 75 percent of the cost of poultry production, and this has risen by over 75 percent between March and November, 2020. In March, the price of finished feed sold between N2, 650 –N3, 000 is now selling between N4, 600 – N5, 300 per 25kg bag.
The resultant effects of the above scenario are as follows:-
- Closure of small and medium sized poultry farms thereby threatening about 5 million to 10 million jobs especially at the peri-urban and rural areas.
- Divestments in the poultry sector due to lack of investors’ confidence.
- Devastating fall of fortunes in the entire value chains of the industry and the seeming crimes that will follow.
- High cost of Eggs and poultry meat and the eventual non availability of poultry proteins.
- Significant drop in the contribution of poultry to the Agricultural Gross Domestic Product (AGDP) of the national economy thereby negating the government drive for Agricultural transformation.
- Drawing back the poultry industry to the pre-2005 poultry development years.
In view of the above negative impacts and disaster that will befall the Nigeria poultry industry if urgent actions are not taken immediately by the government, the industry might be forced to shut down completely by January 2021. The present atmosphere and scenario of things are very alarming and critical.
We therefore wish to suggest the following ways as the possible pathways and solutions to salvage the poultry industry:-
- Halt with immediate effect the export of Soyabeans and Soyameal so as to protect the local food systems and security.
- Partially keep the borders open for markets in agriculture and critical food products in a transparent and predictable manner, but not the export of under produced foods either formally or informally.
- Allow for the immediate importation of Soyabeans and Maize into the country as a stop gap measure to mitigate the impending doom in the Nigeria poultry industry.
- That the government and its relevant agencies should engage with the association on constant basis on issues that affect the industry before critical policy decisions are taken in order to remove most of the ambiguities in policies that affect the industry and the generality of Nigerians.
- In order to assist the industry achieve its target and get prepared to participate in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA), duty and other taxes exemptions be granted for the importation of Maize and Soyabeans.
- Government should try its possible best to secure the country free from criminals so as to enable serious farming while also encouraging the commercial production of Maize and Soyabeans with proven technology and farming practices.
- Canvassing for direct support to poultry farmers through the Association (PAN) in order to ensure equity of supports not by patronage.
- Declaring a state of emergency for the poultry industry and assisting the association to organise a national conference on poultry production in Nigeria.
- Suggesting that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development consider the national food security of the nation first before considering any approval of essential commodities like Maize and Soyabeans for export to any part of the world. Export of critical commodities not produced enough for the food security of the country is a call to hunger and a breach of the fundamental human right to food for Nigerians.
- In order to rightly tackle the problems of the Nigerian agriculture, the Bank of Agriculture must be made autonomous and really viable with ownership by the Nigerian farmers.
The task of sustaining and stabilising the poultry industry is a task for all of us as Nigerians.
Ibrahim is the National President of Poultry Association of Nigeria.