Nigeria’s poultry industry, valued at $4.2 billion, is grappling with a severe crisis as farmers and operators warn of potential closures, shortages, and soaring prices of poultry products nationwide.
Data Miners from LEADERSHIP reveal that the poultry sector, constituting around 25 percent of Nigeria’s agricultural GDP, is persistently navigating a challenging economic environment.
The Poultry Association of Nigeria expresses grave concerns about the scarcity and escalating costs of maize, a vital feed for poultry, which threatens the sector’s viability. This crisis jeopardizes the progress of Nigeria’s poultry industry and endangers over 25 million jobs throughout its value chain.
LEADERSHIP further reports that the scarcity of maize has significantly impacted the poultry industry, as it accounts for 60 to 70 percent of poultry feed. Consequently, prices of eggs and chicken have surged due to the shortage and inflated maize prices. Operators stress the urgency of interventions to safeguard the poultry industry’s future and protect the livelihoods of countless Nigerians reliant on this crucial sector.
Consumers are also experiencing the ripple effects of maize scarcity, with egg prices surging by a staggering 118.34 percent since maize imports plummeted by 97.91 percent. The steep rise in egg costs, a key protein source for many, is cause for concern. The closure of numerous farms, limited access to credit for farmers, and the elevated costs of essential feed components like maize and soybeans have collectively contributed to the escalating egg prices.
Mr. Sunday Akinola, a poultry farmer and member of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) in Abuja, highlights the factors driving up egg prices. The shutdown of farms, constrained supply, challenges in securing credit, and the soaring expenses of feed ingredients have all played pivotal roles. Additionally, security concerns and inadequate access routes to poultry farms have impeded egg production despite substantial demand.
Mr. Akinola underscores that the demand for eggs surpasses supply, largely due to farm closures, and predicts that egg prices will remain elevated for the foreseeable future. The volatility of exchange rates further compounds uncertainties surrounding egg prices in the coming months.
Given the challenges confronting farmers, Mr. Akinola calls upon the government to extend assistance. He urges the provision of grants and more accessible and flexible loan facilities for farmers. Additionally, he emphasizes the need to ensure security for farmers and their farms to sustain ongoing production.
In Kano State, poultry farmers voice alarm over worsening poultry feed prices. Farmers report a more than 30 percent increase in feed prices since the beginning of the year, impacting their operations and endangering the entire poultry business value chain.
Recent checks in the state reveal that poultry feed is now priced between N8,000 and N10,500 per 25kg bag, depending on the brand.
Umar Usman Kibiya, the PAN chairman in Kano State, explains that intense competition for maize supply among various sectors, including confectionery companies, local consumers, and the animal feed industry, has led to scarcity and price hikes. The cost of importing maize has also risen, exacerbating the issue. Some farmers are transitioning to local poultry production due to its less expensive feed requirements. Kibiya notes the significance of maize, a pivotal ingredient in poultry and animal feed production, as well as a key food source in northern Nigeria.
Similarly, PAN in Delta State expresses concern about the possible closure of 600 poultry farms in the region due to surging maize costs, a critical poultry feed component.
Eric Tomfawei, the state chairman of PAN, reveals that maize prices have spiked by over 75 percent, from N225,000 to N405,000 per tonne. Despite this surge, local farmers are unable to raise their poultry product prices due to an existing surplus in egg and broiler production.
To address the crisis, Tomfawei appeals to relevant government agencies, specifically the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Resources, to release ample quantities of maize from the strategic food reserve to the poultry industry at discounted rates.
He accuses the Nigeria Commodity Exchange (NCX) and the Strategic Maize Reserve (SMR) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) of exacerbating the situation by allegedly canceling the allocation of 40,000 metric tonnes of maize intended to support poultry farmers, causing frustration among stakeholders.
Tomfawei calls for an investigative panel to address these allegations and uncover the root causes.
He also warns of potential youth unrest in the Niger Delta region due to the looming threat of farm closures and subsequent layoffs of youth engaged in the poultry sector. This situation exacerbates food crises and heightens security concerns. To prevent the imminent collapse of the poultry industry, Tomfawei appeals for support and underscores the necessity for stakeholders to take appropriate measures to prevent dependence on imported poultry products.
According to Deola Salami, a nutritionist, the rising prices have rendered eggs and other animal-based protein sources unaffordable for many Nigerians. In the absence of affordable plant-based protein sources, such as beans and soybeans, many individuals are resorting to unbalanced diets heavily reliant on carbohydrate-based foods.
She cautions that this situation poses risks to efforts aimed at reducing malnutrition and hunger, especially in insurgency-affected areas. A UNICEF report highlights that millions of Nigerian children suffer from malnutrition, being underweight, and severe acute malnutrition (SAM) annually.
Dr. Owolabi Hassan, an agriculture sector expert and stakeholder, also voices concern over the steep egg price increase. He emphasizes the importance of eggs in the human diet due to their essential amino acids in the correct proportions. While some success has been achieved in researching viable maize alternatives, most of these substitutes are not available in sufficient commercial quantities and can only support small-scale backyard poultry farming.