Nigeria’s trouble in sourcing poultry feedstuffs

The cost of feed and other inputs continues to spiral upwards in Nigeria, trapping the population and the farming community in a vicious economic cycle. Photo: ANP
The cost of feed and other inputs continues to spiral upwards in Nigeria, trapping the population and the farming community in a vicious economic cycle. Photo: ANP

Poultry farming offers food security and a path to a better future for many Nigerians. However, the industry is facing unprecedented challenges due to dual threats of climate change and supply chain disruptions. Feed shortages are testing the resilience of Nigeria’s poultry industry and raising concerns about its sustainability and capacity to meet the nation’s growing demand for poultry products.

As one of Africa’s leading poultry producers, Nigeria provides eggs and meat that nourish millions. But, its impact goes beyond food – it drives employment, fuels economic growth and supports related businesses, like feed production and logistics. However, all is not well…

The dual threat of climate change and supply chain disruptions has led to a shortage of feed supply, driving up costs and putting pressure on poultry farmers. Erratic weather patterns characterised by prolonged droughts and unpredictable rainfall are affecting the production of maize and soybeans, the primary ingredients of poultry feed. Additionally, global supply chain issues, first exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and currently by geopolitical tensions, are further straining the availability of imported feed ingredients.

Impact of climate change

Climate change is casting a long shadow over Nigeria’s agricultural landscape, with maize production – a cornerstone of poultry feed – bearing the brunt of its effects. As temperatures soar and rainfall patterns become increasingly erratic, the once-flourishing maize fields are facing an existential threat. The delicate balance required for maize cultivation is being disrupted, leading to reduced crop yields and heightened uncertainty for farmers.

The impact of climate change on maize farming in Nigeria has been studied by looking at weather and crop data from the Nigerian Meteorological Agency and the Agricultural Development Program. The data shows that over the last 30 years, temperatures have been getting warmer, with the average temperature increasing slightly by about 0.0253°C each year. At the same time, there has been a little less rain each year, with rainfall decreasing by about 0.58 mm annually.

The repercussions of these changes are far-reaching because the increased temperature and irregular rainfall patterns are leading to reduced maize yields. As maize yields dwindle, the cost of poultry feed skyrockets, putting immense pressure on the poultry industry. Farmers are caught in a vicious cycle, struggling to maintain their flocks amid rising feed prices and unpredictable weather conditions. The situation is further exacerbated by the fact that maize constitutes over 60% of poultry feed composition, making its availability critical to the future of the sector.

Supply chain disruptions

The challenges faced by Nigeria’s poultry industry are not confined to climate-induced feed shortages. The global supply chain – a complex web of interconnected systems – has also been hard hit, exacerbating the already precarious situation. Disruptions in this network have a domino effect, impacting the availability of imported feed ingredients and further straining the country’s feed supply. One significant disruption has been the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to unprecedented delays and transport bottlenecks. Ports faced congestion, shipping costs rose sharply and the availability of shipping containers has been erratic. This has led to delays in the delivery of imported feed ingredients, such as soybean meal and vitamins, essential for poultry nutrition.

Added to this, the current geopolitical tensions and trade policies have also played a role in disrupting the supply chain. Import restrictions, tariffs and trade embargoes have created additional hurdles for the import of feed ingredients. For instance, Nigeria’s ban on the import of genetically modified maize has limited the country’s sourcing options, adding to the scarcity of feed. These supply chain disruptions have had a cascade effect on the poultry industry. They have not only increased the cost of feed, but also created uncertainty in feed availability, making it challenging for poultry farmers to plan and manage their operations effectively. The result is a precarious balance, where any further disruption could tip the scales and jeopardise the stability of the entire industry.

Consequences for the industry

The compounding effects of climate change and supply chain disruptions are reverberating throughout Nigeria’s poultry industry, with a far-reaching impact on production costs, pricing and availability. As feed constitutes a significant portion of production costs, the scarcity and rising prices of feed are squeezing profit margins, forcing some farmers to reduce their flock size or exit the industry altogether. The increased cost of production is inevitably passed on to consumers, leading to higher prices for poultry products. This not only affects the affordability of these essential protein sources but also has broader implications for food security in the country. The situation is further compounded by the fluctuating availability of poultry products creating uncertainty in the market, affecting both consumers and producers.

Industry experts and local farmers are vocal about the challenges they face. Recently, the Poultry Association of Nigeria expressed its deep concern about the closure of more than 50% of poultry farms in 2023. It also paints a picture that sheds light on the severe challenges gripping the sector. The need for intervention is clear. Stakeholders are calling for government support, such as subsidies for feed ingredients or investment in local feed production, to mitigate the impact of these challenges and ensure the long-term viability of the poultry industry.

Feed source diversification

In response to the challenges posed by climate change and supply chain disruptions, stakeholders in Nigeria’s poultry industry are exploring various adaptive measures and solutions to mitigate their impact. These strategies aim to ensure the sustainability of the industry and enhance its resilience against similar challenges in the future. One of the key strategies being employed is the diversification of feed sources. Farmers are increasingly exploring alternative feed ingredients, such as cassava, sweet potatoes and insect-based proteins, to reduce their reliance on traditional maize and soy-based feeds. This not only helps to cushion the impact of feed shortages but also promotes the use of locally-available resources.

Government interventions are also playing a crucial role in addressing the challenges faced by the industry. Initiatives such as subsidies for feed ingredients, investment in agricultural research and development, and the establishment of strategic grain reserves, are being implemented to stabilise feed prices and ensure availability. Policies aimed at enhancing local feed production, such as incentives for feed millers and support for smallholder farmers, are also being considered to reduce dependency on imports.

In the long term, building resilience against similar challenges requires a holistic approach. This includes investing in climate-smart agricultural practices to improve crop yields, developing robust supply chain infrastructure to minimise disruptions and fostering public-private partnerships to drive innovation in the industry. Additionally, enhancing the capacity of farmers through training and access to financial services can empower them to adapt to changing conditions and sustain their livelihoods, as well as secure the future of this vital sector for the nation’s food security and economic prosperity.

Contributors Global Poultry Sector Authors