An expert in poultry farming business has said that massive investment in the production of livestock feeds it will reduce the high cost of production of chicken in the country which has made many to prefer imported frozen chicken because of its affordability.
Damilare Jimi-Olatunji, chief executive officer and director at Animalia Farm Services, in an interview with Business a.m., added that with investments from the government and from foreign investors in the sector it will curb the influx of the importation of the product into the country.
Over the years, Nigerians have been feeding largely on imported frozen chicken from neighbouring countries and that has retarded the growth of the country’s poultry business.
The country’s annual domestic demand for poultry consumption is put at 1.5 million metric tonnes, but currently, poultry farmers in the country produce about 300,000 metric tonnes while 1.2 million metric tonnes are smuggled into Nigeria via the land borders.
In August, the president ordered a partial closure of Seme border, one of the popular borders known for smuggling to reduce the influx of some agricultural products into the country. Such smuggled products include rice, tomatoes, frozen foods and other foods that can be locally produced. The border closure was to protect the local farmers.
Olatunji, however, identified some of the challenges facing poultry farmers which hinfer them from meeting the national chicken demand. They include insufficient production of livestock feeds such as maize, soya, sorghum, and other inputs which make the local chickens expensive relative to the smuggled ones.
“The importation of chicken thrives because it’s cheaper. Only a few buy the expensive ones when they have a cheaper alternative. Our locally produced chicken will definitely overtake the imported ones if our coat of production is cheaper and that can only be achieved with a large scale production of crops especially those consumed by livestock e.g. Maize, Soya, sorghum, and others. Once this is relatively cheap it will single-handedly reduce the cost of production since feed takes up 70% of production cost.
“To achieve this feat, we need a huge investment in that sector from local and foreign investors. Once this is fully achieved there will be no need for the importation of maize or other feed ingredients and our chicken will be quite affordable for our people. You can imagine if a bag of feed is currently sold at 3500, reduce to N1500 and a kilo of locally raised fresh chicken goes for N700 per kilo as against N900 – N1000 per kilo of the imported ones,” said Olatunji.
Moreover, the high cost of livestock feeds is not the only a challenge facing the poultry business in the country . Biosecurity in taming the outbreak of diseases is a huge threat to the lives of the birds which needs urgent attention from the authorities.
He, however, called on the government to support financing and conduct more researches to know the best way to combat poultry animal-related diseases such as bird flu.
“Biosecurity in the control of bird flu and other disease incidences on the farm has no substitute. Also having a sales point far from the farm environment goes a long way in keeping people out as much as possible and at the same time the diseases they brought along, this can only be achieved with the government’s support through financing, orientation, research, technology advancements, local production of farm equipment and so on.”
Olatunji is of the view that if the needed infrastructures are in place there would be massive involvement of youths in poultry farming adding that when modern technologies are provided, it will spur the hunger in them to be involved in the poultry farming value chain.
He said, “Millennials are used to technology, quick results, and white-collar jobs. Hence, changing the identity of a farmer from a cutlass carrying and rag wearing individuals to an elite technology-driven and innovative individuals. Many young people will automatically move in and their knowledge, curiosity, and youthfulness will drive that sector to the nation’s pride.”