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COVID-19: Poultry farmers want structured window for grain imports as inputs record 65% increase

*Advocate debentures instead of C of O as loan collateral from CBN

Poultry farmers under the auspices of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Ogun state chapter, have appealed to the Federal Government to allow structured window for the importation of some grains, including maize, soya beans, among other inputs, used as feeds for poultry production, to be imported via land borders and seaports, to beat 65% increase in the prices of poultry feeds.

The farmers said that the negative impacts of Coronavirus pandemic had also affected prices of maize, soya beans and sorghum which form over 55% of production cost in the poultry industry, saying the Government should not only open borders for classified imports such as essential grains for feeds production, but should also order release of grains from the national grain reserves to cushion the effects of scarcity and help reduce skyrocketing prices of the inputs.

Speaking in Abeokuta on Tuesday through a press statement tagged, “The Rising Cost of Maize and Other Inputs of Poultry Feeds – A Pathway to an Imminent Collapse of the Poultry Industry, Blessing Alawode, PAN Chairperson in Ogun state, challenged the Ogun State Government to take a cue from Lagos State Counterpart by subsidising the cost of grains used to feed poultry birds.

Alawode said that the subsidised prices of poultry feeds by the State Government is imperative going by critical economic roles being played by poultry farmers as well as their contributions to the nation’s gross domestic product, adding that the poultry farmers should be allowed by the Central Bank of Nigeria to use debenture assets as collateral for promotional credit facilities instead of known Certificate of Occupancy requirements.

She said, “We are aware that, at the heat of COVID-19 crisis, there was a controlled support by Federal Government to support farmers. We are not asking for free gifts, what we are asking for is subsidised prices of grains for farmers’ groups. We are aware of several interventions, we are also aware that some of our members have accessed funds from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“But the bureaucratic bottlenecks are too frustrating, the bottlenecks are preventing us from accessing funds from CBN, it’s not about the interest rates, it should be made simpler as it is made simpler for maize and rice farmers. Debenture Assets should be enough for us to access CBN loans instead of Certificate and Occupancy (C of O) and other stringent requirements.

“For urgent structured importation window through land and sea, we are not asking for a free-for-all window, but specific window for importation of maize and soya beans to be sold at approved rates to support the poultry industry as it is obvious that our grains and crops farmers cannot sustain our yearly requirements.

“There must be a deliberate attention to the poultry industry in the many intervention programmes of the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). We are also using this opportunity to call on the Government of Ogun State through the Ministry of Agriculture to alleviate the plight of farmers by releasing some grains (maize, soya beans and sorghum) to the organised farmers’ groups just like her Counterpart, Lagos State has done as this has the capacity to force the prices down.”

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