Nigeria’s poultry industry is currently faced with challenges due to the recent Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) revised forex policy that banned importers of maize from accessing forex from the apex bank.
There is an urgent call to strategize solutions to these challenges in order to meet the demand of poultry feed in the country.
Wandieville put a series of webinars involving relevant stakeholders to discuss the new policy; the second day of the webinar which held on Thursday August 27, 2020 focused on “Nigeria’s Ban on Maize Importation: Implication on the Poultry Industry and Opportunities for Alternative Feed” with stakeholders from the poultry industry and the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The panelists for the session were Mr. Okunola Abiodun, Principal Manager, Anchor Borrowers Unit/Team Lead, Poultry Working Group, CBN Abuja; Mr. Onallo S. Akpa, Director General, Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN); Dr. Tunde Amole, Country Representative for the International Livestock Research Institution (ILRI) Nigeria; Mr. Jesse Osiobe, Chief Executive Officer, Farmkart Foods; Mrs. Blessing Alawode, CEO, Demirs Farms/Chairperson, Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Oyo Chapter; Engr. John Oluwoye Olateru, CEO, Terudee Farms Ltd/ All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) Oyo Chapter and Ms. Gbemisola Alonge, Financial Journalist (Macroeconomy and Development), Stears Business, the moderator of the discussion.
They discussed the extent to which the policy has impacted the poultry industry, what alternatives exist in the industry and gaps to be addressed to make the initiative successful. Mr. Onallo S. Akpa, Director General, Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) stated that the intervention has had a negative impact on the poultry industry coupled with the effect of the lockdown, in his words”…the policy has completely and negatively affected the poultry industry worse than anybody expected… this took most of the poultry farmers unaware…most of the poultry farms are closing down now because they cannot afford to feed their birds….”
Engr. John Oluwoye Olateru, CEO, Terudee Farms Ltd/ All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) Oyo Chapter, emphasized that the policy was ill-timed. He stated that the CBN had good intentions but could lead to adverse effects on different segments along the value chain, he noted”…the CBN may have good intentions but it was badly implemented. The effect of this policy is that people get out of business…you send people to their early graves together with the COVID-19 effect”.
Mr. Jesse Osiobe, Chief Executive Officer, Farmkart Foods, said that the policy was implemented at the wrong time, according to him the CBN would have implemented the policy in a better way to avoid such an impact, in his words “…the CBN would have thought on 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…”
Mr. Okunola Abiodun, Principal Manager, Anchor Borrowers Unit, Team Lead, Poultry Working Group, CBN Abuja, stated that relevant stakeholders need to join forces to create alternatives sources of carbohydrate for the production of poultry feed.
He further explained that the policy is not the sole contributor to the increase in maize price; the dynamics of food prices coupled with the effect of the lockdown and change in weather conditions have also led to an increase in the price of commodities.
He pointed out that while the poultry industry is being protected from the competition imported poultry meat creates; the smallholder farmer should also be protected in the industry. He stated that about 30% of maize produce is wasted due to lack of storage facilities.
According to him processing centers can be built for smallholder farmers in rural areas to address issues of post-harvest losses to increase the supply of maize, he noted “…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”
Mrs. Blessing Alawode, CEO, Demris Farms/Chairperson, Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Oyo Chapter explained that the demand for eggs is relatively inelastic which has led to loss on investment in the sector.
She emphasized that the success of the poultry business lies in the ability to restock farm produce and 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.”
There is no working system in the economy according to Dr. Tunde Adegoke Amole, Country Representative for the International Livestock Research Institution (ILRI) Nigeria, he noted “…Solving a problem to create another one has always been a mode of operation in this country….to what extent did the CBN work with other stakeholders before bringing this out?”.
He further explained that a competition exists between human and livestock for maize as a source of food; according to him, this has also contributed to the increase in the price of maize. He emphasized that cassava is an alternative for feed mills but it is also a source of food for humans, therefore focus has to be shifted to cassava peels, in his words, “…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 challenges we have with livestock”.
In a closing remark, Engr. John Oluwoye Olateru, solicited the support of the government and stakeholders to ensure the stabilization of prices of cassava peels when the demand for it increases; he said it is a viable alternative which should be explored appropriately.
He stated that accessing funds to finance technological innovations is faced with a myriad of challenges which have to be addressed to make sure that the initiative benefits players in the industry. Mr. Onallo S. Akpa, suggested that other crops such as palm oil, sorghum, etc. 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 pointed that there has to be a development plan at all levels with working systems to properly harness the potentials in the sector. Mr. Okunola Abiodun emphasized that poultry farmers could create more sources of income for themselves from their farms.
According to him, manure can be converted to biogas as an energy source to cut down operational costs within the farm while eggs can be processed into powder to secure the patronage of institutional buyers.
He pointed out that these technological innovations when pitched with good business plans will be financed by the CBN through various schemes and stakeholders should come together to seek viable solutions for the poultry industry.