‘Why CBN should extend restrictions to egg powder importation’
In this interview with FEMI IBIROGBA, Head, Agro-Economy Desk, the National Vice-President (Southwest) of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Prince Adetoyi Olabode, explains the challenges in the animal production industry, what the government and the operators could do to strengthen the sector and why the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should extend forex restriction to egg powder importation.
There are challenges in the poultry industry and they occur every year. Egg glut is one of them. What do you suggest that the government and the association should do to tackle the challenge?
On challenges, what we need to do is to do a data analysis of the poultry industry so that we can really ascertain the capacity because most of the figures we parade have to be confirmed. We have to be sure of the total eggs produced and actual number of farmers and production capacity. From, there we can determine if the glut we encounter every year is either artificial or not.
Statistics shows that over 200 million people are living in Nigeria, with nothing more than 65 million layer hens, and an average egg consumption of 35 eggs per person yearly, meanwhile in other countries like the United States, it is as high as 300.
So, the egg glut of this year is a result of insecurity, most especially at the north-east zone. And why we are bearing the brunt now is because Boko Haram attacks and other insecurity challenges do not allow eggs to be taken to the affected northern zone, Republic of Niger, Mali and Central African Republic. As a result of this, there is no possible way to move eggs across these borders.
What about egg powder production? Can it help?
If investors can come together, it is a good business opportunity and if the government is looking for investors in the area of poultry production, I think along the line. The government should give an enabling environment for egg powder companies because the country is importing more than N1 billion worth of egg powder in a year.
So, with that, it will even increase the capacity of farmers and stimulate more investments in egg production. So, they should encourage companies that are importing the egg powder to patronise the local processors.I will also encourage the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that it should extent import restrictions on egg powder the way it extended it to the milk sector. The CBN should also deny foreign exchange to people importing egg powder because Nigeria is the biggest producer of eggs in Africa.
Again, smuggling of chickens is still very high. What is the association doing with the government and the customs service on this?
Smuggling of chickens has reduced drastically. If you go to some of the eateries, restaurants and supermarkets like Spar and Shoprite, you will see most of the indigenous chickens produced in Nigeria.
In the last four years, the Nigerian Customs has been doing a lot. The Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) has a collaboration with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), and the agency has been trying its best, but what I will say is, the general public should help us in taking actions against smuggling so that the smugglers can start patronising fresh chicken producers in Nigeria.
Lately, it is believed that the cost of producing chickens in Nigeria is very high and makes it competitive for smugglers to bring cheaper ones. What will you suggest to make local production competitive?
Smuggling can become uncompetitive when the enabling environment is there. The government needs to invest in soya and maize production technologies and improved breeds to increase their production. These two crops form more than 70 per cent of the cost of feeds. Whenever prices of these two commodities go up, they cause a problem of uncompetitive production.
In the international market, a tonne (1000kgs) of maize is just N40,000. But we are buying a tonne of maize here between N90,000 and N120,000. There, a tonne of soya beans will be N50,000, whereas, we are buying a tonne as high as N130,000. Those are critical feed components that are raising the cost. Apart from the two crops, the additives like amino acid, vitamins and other feed materials are expensive. The tariff the government places on these things are too high. So, these are what cause the uncompetitive production in the country.