The Nigerian poultry industry has faced a multitude of challenges in the past decade, and stakeholders have expressed the need for urgent solutions to prevent a total collapse of the N12 trillion industry.
The challenges of the Nigerian poultry sector was brought to the fore at the 2023 Nigeria Poultry Show, an annual exhibition organised by the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), held recently at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Olalekan Odunsi, the chairman of the local organising committee for the event, highlighted the multiple challenges facing the industry and warned that they are pushing the sector to the verge of total collapse. He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 exacerbated the already difficult situation, creating a “tipping point” for the industry. Odunsi stressed that the government and other stakeholders need to take urgent and concrete steps to address these challenges if the industry is to be saved.
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Odunsi pointed to a number of specific challenges that the sector faced recently, including a 300 per cent increase in the price of raw materials such as maize and soy, which are key inputs in poultry feed. He noted that the poor sales of poultry products, such as eggs and chicken, were also a major challenge, with prices falling 100 per cent below the cost of production.
“The present situation of the poultry industry needs all players to deliberately and intentionally intervene,” he said.
Odunsi’s speech set the stage for the discussions and debates that followed, under the theme “Mitigating the challenges of the poultry industry: Current perspectives, the role of government and the private sector.” Panelists and audience members explored a range of issues affecting the sector, including the lack of access to credit and financing, poor infrastructure, high input costs, and the lack of a conducive policy environment. They also looked at the role of the government and the private sector in finding solutions to these problems.
Some of the stakeholders expressed concerns about the new forex policy and the removal of forex restrictions on imported poultry products by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). They noted that the forex policy has led to a surge in the cost of imported inputs, such as feed, which has made local production even more challenging. They also expressed concern that the forex policy could hurt the local industry and lead to job losses. They argued that government policies should focus on supporting local producers rather than making it easier to import poultry products.
Speaking at the event, Sunday Ezeobiora, the national president of PAN, raised concerns about the high production costs within the poultry industry and identified funding, infrastructure, and marketing as some of the major challenges currently facing the industry.
He said, “If these challenges are not adequately addressed, they may spell the end of the poultry industry in Nigeria.” Ezeobiora called for policies that would improve the operating environment for poultry farmers and encourage investment in the sector. He also called for increased support for the sector from the government and other stakeholders.
Gideon Oluleye, the national vice chairman of PAN’s South-West zone, acknowledged the multiple challenges facing the poultry industry, especially the rising cost of poultry feed, which has a significant impact on the sector. He highlighted the importance of the poultry sector to the economy, noting that it contributes over 6% to the country’s GDP and provides employment for over 25 million people. Oluleye also noted that the poultry sector is a major contributor to the food security of the country and has the potential to generate even more jobs if the right policies and support are put in place.
“We, on behalf of poultry Association of Nigeria, are therefore appealing to the Federal Government of Nigeria, the central bank and the federal ministry of Agriculture to intervene in this sector by; subsidising inputs cost, majorly maize and soya beans and ensure its availability within the economy and providing financial window of long term lending to farmers,” he said.
Oluleye proposed that the government should increase its budget allocation to the agricultural sector, particularly the poultry subsector. He suggested that the government should set up egg powder and chicken meat processing companies in all of the country’s geopolitical zones, to curtail egg glut during certain periods of the year. He argued that the government should create incentives for the local production of poultry feed, so that poultry farmers can have access to affordable inputs.
Oluleye also called on the government to adopt a policy of guided importation in the poultry sector, allowing only products that are not locally produced in sufficient quantities to be imported. He advised the government to ban the importation of processed chicken that is contaminated, rejected, or unfit for human consumption, in order to prevent Nigeria from becoming a dumping ground for such products. Oluleye also stressed the need for more stringent regulations and enforcement to ensure that imported poultry products meet the required standards for human consumption.
Meanwhile, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) warned poultry owners against the use of unapproved products in the rearing of birds and animals, stating that such products could pose health risks to consumers. NAFDAC urged poultry owners to ensure that they only use products that have been approved by the agency and are safe for animal and human consumption.
Ramatu Momodu, director of veterinary medicine and allied health at NAFDAC, explained that what this means is that poultry farmers should only use products that have been certified by NAFDAC. This, she clarified,is to ensure that the products are of good quality and that they are effective, so that the safety of the food produced is guaranteed.
“ If they (poultry farmers) use the product properly, they are going to get better birds; birds that are healthier, which is good for business because business will grow which is good for the farmers, for the nation and also for us who are buying the birds to eat,” Momodu said.