Govt, poultry farmers seek measures to address smuggling, production capacity
To reduce pressure on government for foreign exchange to import poultry products, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has partnered with the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) to address challenges in the nation’s poultry industry.
According to the Federal Government, Nigeria should not be importing poultry products as the nation has competitive and comparative advantages to produce to meet local and international demands.
The stakeholders identified the need for government to check activities of smugglers noting that such activities have affected the production capacity of poultry producers with about 40 per cent of operators shutting down businesses.
The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, explained that the country is spending so much of its scarce foreign exchange importing poultry products, saying that Nigeria has no business importing frozen poultry products, which he said contains dangerous substances hazardous to human health.
“I believe the PAN has a collaboration duty with the ministry of Agriculture to embark on an intensive campaign to sensitize Nigerians about the negative impact of consuming these poisonous products,” he said
The minister during the association’s poultry summit tagged, “The role of poultry industry in economic revival of Nigeria” said, “Nigeria’s deficit is as huge as 1.7 million metric tonnes while the country produces just about 300,000 metric tonnes. We are calling on the urgent need to support the association to bridge demand gap of poultry products in the country and to make the country self-sufficient.
He said the federal government’s social investment for the year 2016 is about N93 billion, maintaining that a substantial part of the investment will be given to the association to boost the country’s poultry industry.
He added that smuggling has continued to hinder the growth of poultry products, saying that Nigeria has no business consuming smuggled frozen foods that contains toxins dangerous to human health.
According to him, the ministry is engaging customs, the NDLEA and charging the nation’s quarantine officers on the need to collaborate with regional agencies to reduce the level of smuggling of poultry products into the country.
Earlier, the National President, Dr. Ayoola Oduntan, said over a million tonnes of smuggled chicken finds their way into the country every year, saying that the country’s yearly production is just only about a quarter of what is being imported.
According to him, if given the necessary support and conducive environment to operate, the nation’s poultry industry will bridge the demand gap for poultry products.
He stated that about 40 to 60 per cent of poultry farms are closing down, stressing that these farms need to come back to life while a lot of available farms are operating less than their capacity.
“If the poultry industry is supported, before the end of the current administration’s term in office, we will be able to bridge the gap with a deficit between what we are producing and what is being smuggled into the country. What is needed is the enabling environment and favourable policies. Agriculture is the most critical and important sector in this country,” he said.
He noted that the last six months have been able very tough for the poultry industry considering the avian flu outbreak destroying thousands of birds in the country, calling for the support of the government in all tiers of government and international agencies to pay compensation to farmers that have lost their birds just like it is being done in most part of the world.
He said the issue of smuggling is still a major challenge hindering the growth of the sector, but stressed that with the concerted efforts of the current administration, the issue of smuggling will be a thing of the past.
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