Nigeria’s poultry industry is one of its most crucial sectors, constituting a significant portion of the economy. Despite the recent increase in demand for poultry products, the Nigerian poultry industry faces particular challenges, including high feed costs, declining demand, inadequate veterinary services, policy issues, infrastructure deficiencies and a lack of adequate marketing channels.
The Nigerian poultry industry has been grappling with a myriad of challenges since 2020. Dr Sunday Onallo-Akpa, director-general of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), summarised the situation aptly: “From exchange volatility to the high cost of feeds, supply chain disruption, smuggling and current low consumer demand induced by accelerating inflation and naira scarcity, it has been a chain of problems for the poultry industry.”
In a recent statement, Onallo-Akpa and the national president of PAN, Sunday Ezeobiora, accused 2 key institutions of exacerbating the situation. The Nigerian Commodity Exchange (NCX) and the Strategic Maize Reserve (SMR) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) were singled out as frustrating the poultry industry. According to the PAN officials, the central bank had cancelled the allocation of 40,000 tonnes of maize, a crucial ingredient for poultry feed, intended to support poultry production.
Moreover, they stopped poultry farmers from growing the maize, a move that seriously contributed to soaring maize prices in the market. This step not only impacted the cost of poultry feed but also had a knock-on effect along the entire poultry supply chain.
The problems identified at both farm and national levels have had a profound impact on chicken production and, consequently, on national food supply. As farmers struggle with a direct loss of income, chicken and egg production declines. Farmers simply cannot afford the necessary inputs.
On top of that, diseases are not diagnosed and treated in time due to a lack of adequate veterinary services. Most of the vaccines and drugs used in the Nigerian poultry industry are imported, making their cost highly susceptible to fluctuations in the foreign exchange rate. Recent foreign exchange (FX) volatility, which has seen US$1 increase in value from ₦360 to over ₦772.34 (estimate based on the present free-market exchange rate, see Figure 1), has made it exceedingly difficult for farmers to afford necessary veterinary services, thereby increasing the risk of disease outbreaks and affecting farmers’ incomes.
The on-farm challenges have had a cascade effect on the national food supply. The reduction in chicken production directly impacts the availability of essential food items. Increased prices of chicken and eggs makes them less affordable for ordinary Nigerians and, as a consequence, poverty levels further increase, particularly in rural areas.
To address the multifaceted challenges faced by the poultry industry in Nigeria, a combination of on-farm and national solutions must be implemented. On farm it is a matter of getting the basics right again by promoting the cultivation of maize and soybeans to ensure a steady supply of feed ingredients, without a reliance on imports. Promoting the use of alternative feed ingredients that are locally available and cost-effective is also in the planning, as is encouraging local communities and farmers to participate in initiatives that help to form farmer cooperatives and pool resources to be able to buy inputs at lower prices.
Nationally, there is work to be done as well, ensuring the effective enforcement of existing policies and regulations, investing in infrastructure development, including road networks and electricity supply, and developing a comprehensive policy framework for the poultry industry.
While the implementation of the proposed solutions will address many of the current challenges faced by the poultry industry in Nigeria, there will be new trends and threats that the industry could face in the future. These include climate change, which could lead to an increased incidence of heat stress in chickens, altered feed grain production and a greater incidence of diseases. The global market dynamics, such as changes in consumer preferences, trade policies and competition from other protein sources, will also continue to affect the poultry industry in Nigeria. The growing demand for organic and free-range chicken may also require changes in farming practices.
In conclusion, the poultry industry is a vital sector in Nigeria, contributing significantly to food security, employment and the national economy. It holds significant potential for growth and development. It is imperative that the current challenges are addressed promptly by promoting the cultivation of essential feed ingredients, encouraging the adoption of disease-resistant poultry breeds, investing in infrastructure and developing a comprehensive policy framework.
It is also crucial to prepare for future trends and challenges, such as climate change, technological advances and global market dynamics. This approach is not only vital for the millions of Nigerians who depend on the poultry industry for their livelihoods but is also a key component in achieving food security, economic stability and overall development in the country.