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Lagos live chicken dealers demand processing hubs, empowerment

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Chicken processing site at Olayele Market, Lagos PHOTO: IBE WADA

Live poultry dealers in the Lagos metropolis have called on the state and local government authorities to provide mini processing and storage facilities in each of the marketplaces to enhance wholesomeness of the products, economic improvement and employment opportunities. Some of the dealers who spoke with The Guardian said provision of soft loans, construction of mini chicken processing facilities at market places and employment of processors could turn their business around, make consumption of the products more appealing to consumers and prevent environmental pollution. They also said such facilities in each of the marketplaces would generate millions of naira as revenue for state and local government authorities yearly.

Livestock has become a major source of livelihood and has contributed to income of small-scale dealers, food chains and employment in cities. Exploring cheaper sources of protein has made poultry products a more preferred alternative.

According to Food and Agriculture Organisation reports, millions of households keep farm animals and the sector contributes 6 to 8 per cent of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). One Sunday Adedeji, a poultry dealer in Olayele marketplace, Shomolu area of Lagos, said selling and processing live chickens in a decent environment equipped with simple modern facilities would attract more middle-class buyers and thousands of youths and women could be taken off the road earning from such hubs. He added that storage facilities could also help in stabilizing the prices of the products and make them more available and affordable all year round.

Increase in supplies more than demands have led to gluts causing loss of live poultry and capital of dealers. He added that only in festive periods when demand is usually higher than supply, saying, “this and many others are challenges facing poultry dealers in the marketplaces.’’ Corroborating this, the women market head, Mrs Adejoke, said live poultry dealers incurred losses during the process of transporting them. Some unscrupulous law enforcement agents on the road, she said, also compounded their challenge and make the business unsustainable by extorting them while transiting the birds. “They collect exorbitant amounts of money from transporters.

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Drivers tip them to convey the birds from rural areas or suburbs where the farms are located to the city. This way, she said, the prices of poultry products are forced up. Simple poultry processing and storage centreThe Guardian investigation reveals that there are simple processing tools used by small-scale processors and manufactured locally to modernize the business in cities. A poultry de-feathering machine, fabricated by most of the agricultural research institutes and colleges of agriculture, could de-feather between five and 10 birds that have been dipped in boiling water. This simple equipment can de-feather no fewer than 300 birds daily.

Equipping a centre with about two to five of such machine and employing some workers to man them would revolutionise the small-scale live bird businesses in Lagos market places. Other tools required at the centres include poultry flesh-cutting machines, electric or solar water boilers and mini storage cold chain facilities, which could be powered with renewable energy.

Chicken storage facility PHOTO: FEMI IBIROGBA

These modern poultry facilities are lacking at most of the live poultry hubs in Lagos, and use of unhygienic means of processing chickens are sources of contamination and food poisoning. A live poultry dealer in Oshodi marketplace, Lagos, simply called Iya Vero, reiterated that the government empowerment in basic processing machines would be an added advantage and means of bringing development for poultry dealers.  She said this would make Oshodi live chicken dealers to be more hygienic and patronised.

“It will be a great privilege for the government to empower us with the necessary machines. Our market will be well known and people from various walks of life would want to associate themselves with our market.’’ Likewise, Alhaji Nuhu, one of foul dealers at a Shomolu marketplace, said “cleanliness is nearness to godliness,” adding that a more hygienic place for selling, processing and storage of chicken is desirable.

“As you can see, the crude methods of slaughtering, cutting and processing here is not good for human consumption. Look at how everywhere is dirty, full of flies and stench. It will be a good development if the government can provide facilities needed to improve this place.’’ The live bird dealers also said getting credit facilities for their business cash flows was a difficulty, calling on the Lagos State Government to intervene.

“So many people are interested in poultry farming but lack of capital has made them wave off the plan.  Start-up capital and borrowing schemes should be made available for city live poultry dealers and processors,” Sunday said. They urged the Lagos State government to come to their aid for a more standard and hygienic environment. If the government could emplace modern facilities, their businesses would flourish, cost would reduce, multiple economic opportunities would spring up around the hubs and the government would boost its revenue generation, they urged.

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