Stakeholders battle smugglers to save local poultry

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Broiler Chickens

Stakeholders in the poultry industry, mostly poultry farmers, are making frantic effort to save the business from falling into the hands of smugglers whose activities, they say, are a threat to its survival.

The farmers are also worried over the increase in the prices of the industry’s raw materials, which they say have forced many of them, especially the small scale owners, out of the business in recent times. They also expressed concern over the recurrent glut of poultry products, especially chicken, as a result of smuggling.

The farmers had converged on Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, last week, from all over the country to discuss some of the issues and suggest ways to tackle them.

The farmers were joined at the annual event tagged ‘Nigeria Poultry Show’ by input producers and suppliers, poultry equipment manufacturers, bank officials, government representatives and other stakeholders in the industry.

The 3-day show afforded the stakeholders to brainstorm on how to save the industry from eminent collapse by drawing the attention of the relevant authorities to the importance of the sector to the nation’s economy and health of the citizenry.

The new president of the association, Mr. Ezekiel Ibrahim, while addressing the participants, said the industry has been facing crisis of high interest rate on loans, high cost of inputs, especially maize and soybeans, outbreak of Avian influenza, problem of multiple taxation, high cost of electricity as well as smuggling of poultry products among others.

He regretted that the prices of maize and soya beans have increased by over 200 percent in the year under review without a corresponding increase in the selling price of poultry products – eggs and poultry meat.

He said with all these problems to contend with, some farmers were again hit with the outbreak of Avian influenza in 2015 and 2016 without payment of compensations to them, adding that the problems nearly consumed the industry.

The president said it would be unfortunate for the relevant stakeholders, especially government to allow the industry to collapse because it offers hundreds of Nigerians their source of living apart from the nutrient requirement from the poultry products like egg.

The immediate past president of the association, Dr. Ayoola Oduntan, identified smuggling as the number one enemy that will kill the industry if urgent attention is not taken by the relevant stakeholders, especially government and its agencies to combat it.

Dr. Oduntan, who owns Amo Farms in Oyo State, said 75 percent of the frozen chicken in the country was smuggled in, adding that chicken worth N2.5 billion produced by local farmers are languishing in cold rooms nationwide without market.

“You see, because of the smuggled chickens, chickens grown by local farmers don’t have enough market and there is a limit to which they can grow, so most of them are dying in the farm because of the excess weight,” he said.

He, therefore, called on the government and other stakeholders to ensure strict enforcement of the existing law which bans poultry product importation.

Founder of Animal Care Services Konsult, Dr. Olatunde Agbato, said a common concern for stakeholders in the industry is that costs keep going up and sales prices cannot follow in commensurate measure, thus the farmers’ margins are becoming thinner and thinner.

“In fact, at some point within the last two years, recurrent costs overshot market selling prices of poultry products and many poultry farmers were compelled to close down their operations,’’ he said.

He said to save the industry from imminent collapse “all of us in the poultry value web must urgently re-strategise, otherwise our ventures would suffer jeopardy.’’

The Ogun State chairperson, Blessing Isioma Alawode, observed that the industry was threatened by extinction early this year but that the importation of maize, one of the major raw materials for the industry, by some companies saved the situation.

She said if urgent attention is not taken by the relevant authorities, the industry may be in trouble in no distant time.

A poultry farmer, Mr Matthew Ojoda, said the cost of feeds is affecting even the poultry products like egg as the size gets smaller and smaller.

 In order to save the soul of the industry, the umbrella body of the poultry farmers said stakeholders in the industry must address their minds to survival strategies. That seems to inform the choice of this year’s theme, ‘Efficiency in Production as a Tool to Survive a Recession in the Poultry Industry’.

Speaking on the theme of the show, the National President of the association, Mr. Ezekiel Ibrahim, appealed to farmers to, in the face of the current challenges in the industry, be efficient in the management of their production activities.

“Not only that, they should also try as much as possible to develop sustainable marketing plan in such a way that the issue of glut is reduced to the barest minimum,’’ he advised.

Dr. Olatunde Agbato of Animal Care, said to properly increase poultry production efficiency, farmers must pay attention to the issues of breed selection, poultry management, health management, personnel education, market education and awareness.

He urged farmers to note that the period of supernatural profits and booms are over for the industry and that only efficient producers with advantage of economies of scale are likely to remain profitable in the business.

Dr. Agbato therefore called on the poultry farmers to take their destiny in their hands by controlling what they can, improving what they can improve and eliminating waste that is within their capacity to eliminate.

He also told the relevant authorities that unless those producing, processing, transporting or retailing poultry products can make a decent living out of these preoccupations, the industry will continue to suffer.

 Some stakeholders at the show were, however, skeptical of tangible success as no top Federal Government representatives attended the event.

The agric minister, Chief Audu Ogbeh, was neither there nor did he send a representative despite the fact that he made major policies that either affect the industry.

A farmer, Mr. Matthew Ojoda from Kwara State, regretted the absence of federal government presence at the show, adding that from the lectures and advice given to farmers at the show much may not be expected in addressing some of the identified problems facing the industry.

“One of the major problems is the issue of smuggling poultry products into the country, which is killing market for local farmers but where are the representatives of the Nigeria Customs Service at the Show?. They are the ones to fight this menace but they are not here now, so is like we are just talking to ourselves,’’ he said.

Another farmer, Mrs Kenmat Abiola of Zarmik Farms in Abeokuta, appealed to the Federal Government to find lasting solution to the problems facing the industry, especially those that bother on smuggling and feeds.

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