Cost of Feed: Poultry Farmers Groan, Beg FG to Save Industry

Poultry farmers under the aegis of Poultry Association of Nigeria Ogun State (PANOG) on Tuesday lamented the rising cost of feeds in the country and appealed to the Federal Government(FG) to quickly release grains from its strategic reserve directly to them to save the industry from imminent collapse.

Members of the association who in their scores staged a peaceful rally at Oke-Mosan Governor’s Office Abeokuta, the state capital, to draw attention to what they described as the “double edge” assault on the industry brought about the pre-election currency redesign and later the free floating forex, said the measures dealt devastating blows to poultry business.

Addressing newsmen, the PANOG Chairman, Mr. Idowu Asenuga, said their plights had been made worse by the current economic and political climate which he claimed, were threatening the sustainable production of these food items because of chronic unavailability of maize, a major raw material for poultry feeds.

Asenuga warned that the nation risked 10million jobs loss if the imminent threats to the industry as represented by the rising cost of feeds and unavailability of grains were not addressed immediately while its contribution to food security as well as the backbone of all diets involving chicken and eggs would also seriously be affected.

He noted that maize accounted for over 55% of the composition of poultry feed as it was one of the most efficient sources of energy for all livestock, lamenting that its price had shot up by over 300% in the last nine months owing largely to the level of insecurity in arable lands, low crop yield, speculative procurement (hoarding) and lack of post harvest infrastructure for drying and storage – all of which conspired to render the essential commodity scarce and unavailable for industry use.

Citing the Feed Industry Practitioners Association of Nigeria (FIPAN) report, he said Nigeria required over 17 million MT per annum (pa) of maize to meet its current demands whereas it produced just over 10 million MT pa currently, explaining that livestock feed mills across the country were currently scaling down in production, rationing feed for its desperate farmers with some of them shutting down outrightly.

Asenuga said, “Poultry farmers across the nation are also watching helplessly as their flock forcefully undergo ‘molting‘ (starvation), with some selling birds prematurely to avoid total loss. Egg farmers are selling eggs 20 to 30% below the cost of production due to a lingering egg glut recently made worse by the blockade of Nigeria’s land border to Niger Republic, one of the largest market destinations of our table eggs.

“The collapse of the poultry industry will mean that over 10 million jobs would be directly and indirectly lost, majority of restaurants and food services would go out of business due to little or nothing nutritious to offer its patrons and food security would take multiple steps back in retrogression.This downward spiral is avoidable if the government takes the subject of grains planting, harvest, storage and distribution serious by putting proactive measures in place.

“These measures are grouped in short term, and long term and are highlighted below. In the Short Term:Recognizing the role the state plays in poultry supply to the nation, the Ogun State Government (OSG) needs to urgently facilitate the release of the palliative maize at subsidized rate, from the National strategic grains reserve directly to poultry farmers, through the Poultry Association of Nigeria Ogun state (PANOG) along with other stakeholders to bridge the huge supply deficit.

“The OSG should urgently appeal to the federal Government to grant Maize import quota, with duty waivers to feed millers and other able organizations to meet supply gaps and bring about much needed price relief.

“The OSG should assist in mopping up poultry products from farmers and their subsequent inclusion as palliatives for the needy, commencement and sustenance of the state school feeding programe. Ensuring means of dissolving cartels of grain merchants engaged in arbitraging, and often creating artificial scarcity by hoarding maize thereby depriving the rightful productive consumers.In the Long Term:Provision of massive infrastructural developments (Schools, Hospitals, roads, electricity, security outfits etc.) in rural areas to encourage our teaming youths to reside and farm their local jurisdictions and prevent urban migration.

“Activation of similar effort of Government 20,000 hectares of rice cultivation for both maize and soya beans more so that the value chain of maize and soya will generate more employment and taxes for the state.Massive investments in irrigation, drying and storage projects across the state to tackle the problems associated with climate change to avoid recurrent crop failures and losses.”