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Nigeria: Shortage of maize is crippling the poultry industry

The Nigerian poultry industry is on the brink of collapse and could lose about N1 trillion (US$ 2.6 billion) annually, threatening at least 1 million jobs.

The Central Bank of Nigeria issued a directive in June banning the importation of maize, hinging its decision on the need “to increase local production, stimulate a rapid economic recovery, safeguard rural livelihoods and increase jobs,” Premium Times reported. However, the programme director of the Lagos Business School Agribusiness Programme, Ikechukwu Kelikume, stated that the policy could further compound the woes of poultry farmers given that maize is very scarce and, where available, very expensive. Fast forward 2 months and Gbemisoye Agboola, chairman of Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), on behalf of numerous stakeholders in the industry, including Day Old Chicks Merchants Association of Nigeria, Livestock Industry Foundation for Africa (LIFA), and Feed Millers Association of Nigeria, is appealing to Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari to help salvage the industry, reports Nigeria’s The Sun.

The poultry industry is on the verge of collapse because poultry farmers either cannot get maize to produce feed, or they cannot afford to buy finished feeds to feed their chickens. Photo: Majimazuri21
The poultry industry is on the verge of collapse because poultry farmers either cannot get maize to produce feed, or they cannot afford to buy finished feeds to feed their chickens. Photo: Majimazuri21

Early grave

“The Covid-19 lockdown has sent several farms to an early grave,” said Agboola, adding that others are on the verge of collapse because they either cannot get maize to produce feed or they cannot afford to buy finished feeds to feed their chickens. “The price of maize, which was N80/kg (US$ 0.21) in March 2020, has crept to N180/kg (US$ 0.47) today and is still increasing. That cannot be said of the price of poultry products. As if that is not enough, we now have the ban on importation of maize,” he said.

Maize constitutes between 50% and 70% of chicken feed in the country. There is also a high demand for maize for human consumption. This, Agboola says, has resulted in an unhealthy competition for this important staple food and feed.

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Call to relax ban

The Poultry Association of Nigeria, Oyo State branch, is calling on the president to relax the ban on the importation of maize for a period before the next planting season. “We have about 160 million layers in Nigeria. If it takes us N5,000 to rear one, that is N800 billion, close to a trillion Naira... I can vividly say that the volume of money we are losing now and what we can lose in total is far more than a trillion Naira annually,” said Dr Segun Makanjuola, a former general-secretary of PAN, reports Naija247. According to Alhaji Asimiyu Oyetunde, chairman of Day Old Chicks Merchants Association of Nigeria, day-old broilers range from N200 to N300 (US$ 52 – US$ 78), but during the Covid-19 pandemic prices shot up to N400 to N450 (US$ 1.04 – US$ 1.17).