BusinessDay

Over 5m jobs at stake as poultry farmers lament high cost of maize

Poultry farmers under the auspices of Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), on Tuesday, drew the attention of the government to the high cost of maize, warning that severe hunger may hit the country if nothing was done to mitigate the situation. The farmers also noted that unless urgent steps were taken to bring down the costs of other grains, including Soya beans, about five million of its members may lose their jobs. According to them, many of their members are already heavily indebted to their creditors, while several others have closed down their businesses as a result of the high cost of feeds.

They spoke at a press conference in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, on behalf of all poultry farmers in the Southwest zone, comprising six states- Oyo, Ogun, Lagos, Ekiti, Osun and Ondo, including Kwara. The press conference was addressed by Olalekan Odunsi, general secretary of PAN, supported by chairmen of each of the six states, and Kwara.

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Odunsi said “The poultry industry in the Southwest geopolitical zone is over 6 decades growing consistently and steadily to a population of 30 million, a number representing more than 60 percent of the national poultry population. “In investment, this sector is worth over N2 trillion. In job creation, it employs over 10 million people directly and indirectly using its wide value chain from farm to field. It is worthy of note that this sector is almost 100 percent private-driven. “However, if urgent attention is not given to the lingering crisis of grains especially maize and soya, we fear that an industry with such enviable statistics may suffer a total collapse.”

According to him, in July 2020, the price of maize due to inadequate supply against the huge demand by the poultry sector and other users rose from N105,000 to N165,000. In the midst of this hike in price, the Central Bank of Nigeria announced a ban on Forex for the importation of maize which further drove the price to as high as N185,000 per ton. Presently, egg is going out of the reach of an average family with ideal price at N1300per crate but the farm gate price is still at N1000-N1100 a price that will force farmers to close down. “The government should approve urgent importation of Animal Feed Grade of Maize to sustain the over 50 million layers, 100 million broilers, 1 million breeders, and other classes of poultry until the next harvest season. In the interim, Odunsi urged the government to enforce a ban on the export of Soya beans both seed and the processed meal. Principal among the reasons for the ban was to encourage local production. “Yet the acute scarcity and astronomical prices of Soya beans and maize threaten an additional 5 million poultry jobs in the short term except the government intervenes.”

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