…Say poultry sector on brink of collapse
By Benjamin Omoike
Poultry farmers have decried the scarcity and continuous rise in the price of maize, stressing that it poses a major threat to their businesses and food security in the country.
Maize, which constitutes over 50 per cent of poultry feed, is currently very scarce, and where available, the prices have skyrocketed and cannot be afforded by majority of the poultry farmers.
Mrs. Blessing Dominic, a Plateau State-based poultry farmer, who rears both broiler and layer birds, told Morning Mail that her birds no longer feed properly due to the unavailability of feeds as a result of the scarcity of maize.
She said: “The painful thing is that there is very limited feed available in the market. When we complained to the local companies that produce feed, they said they can’t produce feed due to maize scarcity. At this point, we are really suffering, the government should do something and help us survive.”
She added that she had to lay off some of her staff recently because her business was becoming unprofitable.
Mr. Emwinghare Osaze, a Benin-based poultry farmer, described the current scarcity and increase in the price of maize as a threat to the poultry business.
“The government is trying to discourage the importation of frozen chicken and majority of us poultry farmers are trying to go into broiler production and processing. But with this increase in the price of maize and the non-availability, I really don’t see how we are going to survive,” he said.
Chief Alfred Mrakpor, the Delta State Chairman of the Poultry Association of Nigeria, urged the government to permit the importation of maize into Nigeria as a result of the shortage of the product. He described the scarcity of maize as a threat to Nigeria’s food security. According to him, several poultries have already shut down.
He said: “The rising cost of maize is threatening livelihoods of small businesses in Nigeria. It is not only poultry farmers’ investments that are threatened, but also other players in the value chain, such as feed producers, chicken and egg vendors, processors, grain traders, veterinary doctors and drug vendors among others, thus plunging the economy into deeper crisis.”
Austin Eze, a maize supplier, said the poultry industry is in dire situation as a result of the scarcity.
“We are getting to the point where there will almost be nothing available for anybody to use. On a normal day, when you go to buy maize in some markets, you can fill 40 trucks. Currently, you can’t even fill a truck. The scarcity of maize is a major problem right now.”
Similarly, Mr. Shehu Muazu, who also supplies grains, said his search for maize to supply his customers has been fruitless. He said that the high prices and the scarcity of the crop had instilled fear amongst animal feed manufacturers.
“For past three weeks, I have been receiving calls from feed mills that they need more maize, but we can’t find any because of the current scarcity. This is the business I depend on to make ends meet. If I can’t supply, then I also have a problem because I won’t be able to feed my family,” he stressed.