The poultry industry in Nigeria – one of its most vibrant agricultural sectors – is on the verge of collapse. As the average price of feed ingredients has risen by over 168% in the last 3 years, some farmers are walking away from their livelihoods as profits drop and security risks remain high.
The consumption of poultry meat in Nigeria in 2021 was estimated to be over 200,00 tonnes with a 4.5% increase compared to 2019. The demand for poultry meat in Nigeria, which the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization notes is a significant protein source for over 200 million people, has led to increased demand for feed by poultry producers in the country.
However, inflation in the price of feed in Nigeria has led to producers’ falling behind in poultry production with most complaining that the profits earned are not enough to sustain their businesses. A market survey by the Centre for Journalism and Innovation Development showed, on average, the cost of 25 kg of poultry feed (made mainly from maize, soybean, wheat and millet), rose from 3,600 Nigerian naira (US$ 10, estimate based on free market exchange rate in 2019) in 2019 to between 8,500 naira (US$ 20.41, estimate based on present free market exchange rate) and 10,000 naira (US$ 24.02) in July 2022.
“We cannot meet the demand from poultry farmers because most grains are in the hands of merchants who are hoarding them for more profit,” says Dr Abubakar Bello Funtua, national president of the Maize Association of Nigeria.
There has been a persistent shortage in Nigeria of the 2 most essential ingredients in poultry feed production – maize and soybean – which is one of the main reasons for the increase in feed costs in the country.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, Nigeria increased its maize production from 12.4 million tonnes in 2020 to 12.7 million tonnes in 2021. However, domestic production was still insufficient for poultry feed producers as Nigeria still had to import over 500,000 tonnes of maize for 2 years to help meet local demand.
Soybeans, a primary ingredient used in poultry feed that provides an inexpensive and high-quality source of protein, are scarce and expensive in Nigeria, too. Director-general of the Poultry Association of Nigeria, Onallo Akpa, complained how the price of soya has increased by 100-120%. He states that of 900,00 tonnes produced annually according to the country’s Soybean Association, merchants export about 40-50% of that to other countries, either as seed or soya milk. He adds that soya amounts to almost 25% of the input for poultry feed but is not currently available in the country today.
Idowu Asenuga, chairman of the Poultry Association of Nigeria, states that the recent impact of the various kidnapping incidents in the country has taken its toll on poultry producers’ businesses as well. He indicates that the situation, which was already bad, has become worse because most of the people abducted provide employment which leads to farm staff refusing to go to work after their employer has been kidnapped and eventually leads to starvation of the birds.
In Kaduna state, responsible for growing most of the grains used in poultry feed production, a report showed that insecurity is scaring farmers into not leaving the safety of their homes, affecting the availability of grain within the country. The State Security report noted that over 937 people had been killed and 3,348 people abducted in 2021.