• Sunday, February 25, 2024
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Obasanjo decries removal of FX ban on poultry products

Mambilla, Obasanjo and the scapegoat mentality

…as annual production gap hit 675,000mt

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has decried the recent move of the Central Bank of Nigeria, to lift the ban which restricted importers of 43 items, including poultry products from accessing foreign exchange for importation.

Speaking at the 2023 poultry summit themed: ‘Poultry Production: A Foundation for Food Security and National Development’, held in Abuja, the former president said that the removal of the ban will negatively impact the investments of local poultry farmers.

The CBN, in October, had said that as part of its responsibility to ensure price stability, it will boost liquidity in the Nigerian foreign exchange market by interventions from time to time.

“Importers of all the 43 items previously restricted by the 2015 Circular referenced TED/FEM/FPC/GEN/01/010 and its addendums are now allowed to purchase foreign exchange in the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market,” it stated.

Some of the affected items include rice, cement, margarine, palm kernel, palm oil products, vegetable oils, meat and processed meat products, vegetables and processed vegetable products, poultry, tomatoes/tomato paste, soap, cosmetics, and head pans.

The lifting of the ban means that importers of these items can now freely purchase forex from the official window at ‘cheaper rates.

Former President Obasanjo also warned against opening Nigeria’s border for poultry products importation, stressing the need for the government to support local production to meet consumption.

He said, “When you talk of poverty eradication, wealth creation or employment generation, poultry is one of the best that you can go into either a small, medium or large resources level, moreso the market is at the doorstep.

“When the poultry industry is thriving it will trickle down the value chain including maize, soybean farmers, pharmaceutical companies producing drugs for the birds will also benefit.”

In his remarks, Aliyu Abdullahi, minister of state for Agriculture and Food Security, urged all industry players to work together to ensure the nation thrives on the wings of self-sufficiency and prosperity with poultry production playing a significant role.

Read also: Nigeria’s facing food insecurity rises 133% as poverty deepens

He said, “Agriculture, particularly poultry production, stands as a cornerstone in this journey. It is not merely about raising livestock; it is about nurturing a resilient nutrition foundation for our nation’s sustenance and growth.

“The country’s poultry industry as a vital part of animal agriculture is adjudged the most commercialized component of the livestock sub-sector contributing over 25 percent of the Agricultural GDP.

“It boasts of employing about 25 million people in both direct and indirect jobs. The poultry industry prides itself as a veritable supplier of animal protein with a good potential to meet the protein requirement of Nigerians from animal sources. An egg is touted as a complete meal and can be utilized to tackle the menace of malnutrition particularly in children.”

According to him, the nation’s annual egg production is estimated at 10.3 billion eggs while annual consumption is put at about 14 billion eggs, based on the premise of annual individual consumption of about 70 eggs.

Also, the annual consumption of poultry meat in Nigeria is put at 1,500,000 MT and production output is just about 55 percent of consumption, estimated at 826,902.42 MT leaving a huge deficit of 45 per cent, which is about 675,000 MT.

“This deficit, unfortunately, is met through the smuggling of poultry and poultry products which most of the times are unwholesome, with its attendant negative effects on the citizens, industry and the economy.

“The potential of the Nigerian poultry industry to meet the animal protein need of the populace and play a vital role in the international trade arena are enormous. If correctly harnessed, they will culminate in immense prosperity for the citizens as well as the nation,” he said.

Sunday Ezeobiora, the national president of Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), said there was a need for the government to ban the export of soybeans to safeguard the poultry industry from collapse.

Ezeobiora however said that the Association is hopeful of stronger growth with the takeoff of the Nigeria Agricultural Development Fund, (NADF).