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‘Government should set up regulatory body to address poultry products’ price volatility’

Umar Oba Adelodun, co-founder/CEO, Heart and Capital Limited, a young innovative Agriculture entrepreneur, passionate about the impacts of agriculture on African youth and the economy, spoke with SEYI JOHN SALAU on the challenges faced by poultry farmers and how the sector can contribute to Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP). Excerpts:

How long have you been playing in the poultry sector and how has the journey been?

We have been active in the agric sector for a couple of years and the poultry sector happens to be one of the key sectors we operate in. In addition to our own poultry farms, we offer technical advisory and fund arrangement solutions to our clients and as you can imagine, the journey has not been easy. The challenges start from the essentials such as poor road infrastructure and power supply to the alarming increase in poultry feeds and recurring diseases like bird flu that affects the birds’ mortality rate. However, there is still a huge gap between the supply and demand of poultry products, which presents a huge market opportunity for producers.

How can Nigeria bridge its supply and demand gap in local poultry production?

It is worthy of note that the increase in local poultry products increased when the government made the border closure directive because these products were known to be smuggled in to the country via land borders hence, the government should enact more policies that would encourage local farmers to increase production. Government should also help them see to price of feeds that are constantly increasing by setting up a price regulatory body to address the price volatility of the products.

How do you think government can deal with the rising cost of maize – key input in the production of poultry feeds?

Scarcity of maize is a threat to the nation’s food security. This problem will not be felt only the poultry farmers, it will further plunge the economy of the nation into further crisis because other players in the value chain like the layers and broiler farmers, feed processors/producers and so on will also be affected. Looking at this problem objectively, a major cause in the rise of the scarcity of maize is the climate change. Considering the fact that majority of our local farmers depend heavily on rain-fed season to produce, the disruption in the rain pattern due to the climate change has posed a serious threat to the farmers and the production yield in general. The government can help curb this by investing heavily in the irrigation of our farmlands and encouraging climate smart practices with the smallholder farmers. Also, The state of insecurity of the country has been a major discouragement for crop farmers as we have had cases of mass killings of farmers on the farms, herdsmen crisis, etc. Improving the security status of the country as a whole would help tremendously in attracting not only the smallholder farmers but investors as well.

How has FX volatility affected the prices of vaccines used in the poultry industry, since they are mostly imported?

Like so many other sectors, the FX volatility has affected the agric sector as well because a lot of the inputs we use in the country are imported and a major input in the poultry sector are vaccines. The FX volatility has increased the cost of vaccines, which invariably increases the cost of production in poultry production. Automatically it creates a further strain on the thin profit margin of producers in the country.

Poultry farmers have suffered severely from the pandemic- rising input cost and bird flu outbreak. What do you think the government can do to support the industry?

Some of the bitter take home of the pandemic is the fact that the social, health and economic paradigm around the world would not remain the same and the poultry farmers are facing just the same challenges. The Government can support the industry by creating an enabling environment for the poultry farmers. Enabling environment includes improving on institutional voids, inadequate information as regards the market as a whole which serves as a barrier between transactions of buying and selling, security, etc.

How can the country permanently tackle the recurring bird flu outbreak?

The best way to permanently prevent the outbreak is through awareness of the preventive measures like keeping birds indoor, preventing other wild birds from getting access to their feeds, maintaining a good pen hygiene, limiting and disinfecting visitors and vehicles that are there to supply essentials, trainings, surveillance and so on. When farmers are aware of what to do and what not to do, the bird flu will become a thing of the past.

What is your take on the agribusiness subsector of the economy and how can we make it contribute more to Nigeria’s GDP?

The agribusiness subsector is already a major contributor to Nigeria’s non-oil GDP and also created thousands of employment opportunities in the country. However, considering the wide gap between supply and demand there is still much more that can be done. What we need to do is unlearn and relearn a lot of things that would allow us take agriculture as a proper business using improved inputs, technology, etc. to optimise our yield in order to be able to compete with other countries.

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