Poultry farmers fault ban on maize importation
Stakeholders in the poultry industry have expressed their displeasure over the inappropriateness, and the ill-timing of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), revised policy that banned importers of maize from accessing foreign exchange (forex) from the apex bank and called for an urgent solution to forestall them from shutting down.
The industry players during a Wandeville Media Webinar series at the weekend decried that they were not carried along in the policy introduction, causing most of them to go bankrupt and downsize.
The Director-General, Poultry Farmers Association of Nigeria (PAN), Onallo Akpa, lamented that the policy has completely and negatively affected the poultry industry more than expected, as they were taken unaware, causing many of them to shut down due to their inability to afford feed for their birds.
On his part the CEO, Terudee Farms Ltd., and member, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Oyo Chapter, John Oluwoye Olateru, emphasized that the policy was ill-timed, saying that although the CBN had good intentions, it was badly implemented as the policy coupled with the impact of the Cvid-19 pandemic could lead people to their early graves.
One of the participants, Jesse Osiobe, argued that “the CBN would have thought through how to implement this so that the impact will not be really felt. We need to study the industries that use maize, not just the poultry industry, we have to go back to our books and see where we can bridge the gap.”
The Chairperson, PAN, Oyo Chapter, Mrs Blessing Alawode, noted that the demand for eggs is relatively rigid, leading to loss of investment in the sector. She emphasized that the success of the poultry business lies in the ability to restock farm produce, but the intervention has made this unachievable.
In her words: “The poultry farmer is having a hard time because he is unable to replace his stock, and this means downsizing, which will lead to unemployment for a few hands the farmer engages, and loss of investments.”
But the Principal Manager, Anchor Borrowers’ Unit, who is also the Lead, Poultry Working Group, Okunola Abiodun, urged stakeholders to join forces to create alternative sources of carbohydrate for the production of poultry feed.
He attributed the increase in the price of maize not only to the policy, but also the dynamics of food prices coupled with the effect of the lockdown, and change in weather conditions.
He said that more than 30 per cent of maize production is wasted due to lack of storage facilities, adding that processing centres can be built for smallholder farmers in rural areas to address issues of post-harvest losses to increase the supply of maize.
“There are no fast routes to economic development; there is no silver bullet to this, we should collaborate and come together to sort out ways. You cannot leave the power to produce food for your people in the hands of strangers,” Abiodun concluded.
However, the Country Representative for the International Livestock Research Institution (ILRI) Nigeria, Dr. Tunde Adegoke Amole, emphasized that cassava is an alternative for feed mills, urging poultry farmers to shift to cassava peels.
He said: “Let’s look beyond cassava and look into the peels. If we accept this, we will solve the problem of environmental pollution, increase in maize price, and the challenges we have with livestock.”
Also, Akpa suggested that other crops such as palm oil, sorghum, and others can serve as substitutes for maize in the feed mills, and the government can engage stakeholders in commercial agriculture to meet the demand for maize. He noted that there has to be a development plan at all levels with working systems to properly harness the potential in the sector.
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