Lockdown: Poultry industry at risk of collapse, farmers lament

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Some poultry producers lament on their inability to maintain cash flows for their farm operations as the COVID-19 lockdown impairs commercial transactions of most perishable farm produce.

The Poultry Association of Nigeria is lamenting what it describes as negative impacts of various actions by some state governments, which are adversely affecting the poultry industry and ability of producers to meet the dietary requirements of Nigerians.

Costs of feed ingredients and diesel, some of the hatchery and feed mill operators said, also make business continuity and sustainability a difficulty as demand for products nosedive.

 A former chairman of the Poultry Association of Nigeria in Oyo State who runs a feed mill and a hatchery lamented that poor electricity, high cost of diesel despite lower price of crude oil at about $25 per barrel, and high cost of maize, soy meal and other feed ingredients have made the cost of producing poultry less cost-effective.

This, Olateru said, could lead to the collapse of the poultry industry, loss of thousands of jobs and aggravation of poverty and crime if the government fails to intervene.

He specifically called on the Federal Government to drastically reduce the pump price of diesel to about N140 per liter, saying running businesses and farm operations with generators and diesel is increasingly killing the productive sectors.

Mr. Olabanji Akanji, a breeder and hatchery owner, supported Olateru’s claim, saying the cost of diesel makes running a hatchery unprofitable in the face of inadequate power supply and other difficult production dynamics.

Day-old chick production, he explained, is very fundamental to the sustainability of the poultry industry as it determines the availability of inputs and on which other poultry inputs depend.

Similarly, owner of Jofa Farms, based in Ilorin, Kwara State, Mr. Olusegun Oluwayinka said as of filing this report, he had unsold 400 crates of eggs due to inability of off-takers travel from Lafiaji.

 

The farmer also lamented stress associated with getting to his farm as security operatives often proved unreasonable even with pieces of evidence indicating being a true farmer.

He called on the Kwara State government to caution security operatives who allegedly harass farmers going about their businesses, as Nigerians would still eat despite the lockdown.

Warning against counter-productivity, the President of PAN, Mr. Ezekiel Ibrahim Mam, said “As an association of poultry producers, we are fully in support of the Federal Government on all measures taken so far to improve the health and economy of the nation and to curtail the further spread of the deadly virus.

“As much as we appreciate the pro-activeness and efforts of the government in the above direction, we want to bring to the attention of the government the following negative impacts of the various actions various state governments have so far taken on the poultry industry in Nigeria.

“The restrictions of inter-state movement of vehicles by the various state government is to worsen the food and protein supply situation to Nigerians, especially that ‘food’ is considered as very essential items for human health and survival.”

Mam argued that the situation of the poultry products market is not stable at the moment, and if urgent steps are not taken to remove the restriction on the movement of vehicles conveying such critical poultry like day-old chicks (DOCs), eggs, poultry feeds and drugs which are daily needed by all Nigerians, the poultry industry, which is on the part of becoming the mainstay of the Nigerian livestock industry, might be destroyed.

He also implored the government to consider granting some palliatives to egg and day-old chick producers who are unable to sell their chicks, eggs and feeds as a result of the lockdown caused by the measures already taken by various state governments in restricting inter-state movement.

“We also will want to use the opportunity of this press conference to appeal to poultry farmers across the country to observe biosecurity not only on their farms but in the entire poultry production value chain so that the poultry industry might not be confronted with any other challenge of the strange disease outbreak.

“The government at all levels should consider the plight of poultry farmers at the moment by relaxing the movement of vehicles regulation for all means of transportation carrying day-old-chick, eggs, poultry feeds, input and any other production inputs like maize, soybeans and wheat offal for the continued production of poultry products,” he pleaded.