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High cost of chicken mars Christmas celebration, as traders lament low sales

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Many households, especially in Lagos and Ogun states, celebrated last Friday’s Christmas without their favourite chickens as the price of the birds went practically beyond their reach.

A survey carried out by The Guardian across major markets in Lagos – Ile-Epo, Agege, Daleko, Ojuwoye, all in Lagos State and Sango, Ifo, Arigbajo and Wasimi, Ogun State, showed that the price of the chickens increased by about 100 per cent compared to this time of last year.
 
It was learnt that a sizable broiler chicken, which sells for N5, 000 currently sells for as high as N15, 000 in Lagos, competing with the price of a live turkey and goats that sell around that region. Old layers, which sells between N1, 500 and N2, 000, currently sells for N4, 000. A cockerel sells for between N4, 500 and N6, 000.

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In Ogun, though a bit affordable to what obtains in Lagos, the least price of a broiler is between N5, 000 and N6, 000, while the least price of old layers is between N3, 000 and N3, 500.  
 
This development has brought about a bleak season for poultry farmers, as they have continued to record low patronage as at last Friday, which was the Christmas day.
 
Reports from poultry markets and major farms showed that chickens of different varieties and sizes could not attract buyers. Aside from the high cost which farmers attributed to increase in prices of feeds, drugs and other poultry materials, low purchasing power due to the state of economy worsened by the coronavirus pandemic and late supply due to high cost of transportation are the factors advanced for the low patronage.
 
Those who spoke with The Guardian described the festive season as a bleak one in terms of sales, as the economic reality of growing inflation, devastated the purchasing power of most families.
  
A poultry farmer in Agbado market area of Ogun State, Mr. Amos Ayodele, who told The Guardian on Wednesday that he was yet to make any sale from his stock, said he has never witnessed the type of lull during festive seasons since he started the business. “I have never seen such apathy, especially during festive seasons. The situation was worse as people were practically broke, we even tried to reduce the price, but the situation was the same.
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“The only hope I have now is sales ahead of the New Year, I have stocks that are only consuming feeds without buyers, they are actually tying down my money and I don’t even have any motivation of buying another set to breed. If I don’t sell these for the New Year, I don’t know how I am going to sell them.”
 
Alhaja Mopeoluwa Idowu, whose stall is situated at the Oko-Oba abattoir, Agege, said: “To us, the yuletide season is non-existent as the mood in the market has been gloomy. Most of our customers complained about the high cost of chicken and they stayed away. I don’t think the experience is limited to only chicken sellers, it cuts across all foodstuff sellers. Unlike previous years, most sellers in this area have been sitting down in front of our stalls chatting, while those who have other businesses to do have been staying away from the market.”
 
A middle aged woman, Mrs. Jumoke Ojumu blamed the harsh economic situation on the low patronage. “In my house, we usually buy an average of five chickens during the yuletide. While we consume one at home, the remaining four are usually given to people as gifts. But this year is different, instead of giving out chickens; we bought hampers and other commodities that are cheaper.” A survey of some of the markets at the weekend revealed that large stock of chickens have remained unsold at the stalls. 
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