Poultry farmers in Lagos State say that enforcement of the ban on importation of frozen poultry products is a blessing to the industry as it will encourage local production if sustained.
The ban on importation of frozen poultry, especially turkey and chicken into Nigeria began in 2003, but had not been effective as the products still saturate the various markets across the country.
Many poultry farms have become moribund and a few that managed to operate did so below their installed capacity with the attendant effect on the economy and job losses because of the unchecked importation.
Correspondents of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) who visited some farms in Ikorodu, Abule-Egba, Bariga, Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway and Ikorodu-Sagamu Expressway report that many of the farms have folded up.
Many of the farms have also been overgrown with weeds and the farm buildings destroyed by termites.
The poultry farmers told the NAN on Monday that if sustained, the enforcement might restore the folded companies and encourage patronage of locally produced poultry products.
They said the enforcement was long overdue and expressed the hope that it would apart from shielding the people’s health from diseases enhance the development of the poultry sub-sector of animal husbandry.
They lamented that because many of them have been out of production, their facilities had become dilapidated and called for government’s assistance to revive them.
They also said that the government should subsidise meat production equipment that were not being manufactured in the country and ensure steady power supply for preservation of frozen products.
With these, they expressed the hope to that they would once more be back in production and meet local consumption needs and for export.
The farmers also appealed to the Nigeria Customs Service to live up to their responsibilities to rid the country of unwholesome products.
Narrating their experiences, Chairman, Agriculture and Non-Oil Group, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr. Wale Oyekoya, said that poultry farmers expected the government to do more than just enforcing the ban.
His words: “Most farmers have stopped operation because of unchecked importation of frozen chickens into the country.
“In Lagos alone you can count how many farm houses that are still in operation. Those of us still operating are not finding it easy at all.
“So, the ban is a welcome development. Poultry farmers are hoping that it would draw the federal and state governments’ attention to the many challenges facing farmers.
“These challenges are inhibiting the poultry farmers’ capacity to meet the local demand for frozen chicken,.’
The chairman listed the challenges as high cost of production, irregular power supply, lack of access roads and funds as well as governments policy somersault.
Oyekoya, also the Managing Director, Bama Farms Ltd., Bariga, said that federal and state governments needed to address the challenges to ensure poultry farmers met the nation’s consumption needs.
He said that recently about 50 farmers along Lekki-Epe Axis lost their farmlands to the proposed International Airport Development in the area.
“This shows how insensitive the government is to farming apart from being reluctant to providing alternative,’’ he said.
According to him, BAMA Farms has about 120 hectares farmland where it is doing integrated farming activities.
He said many farmers along that axis had invested millions in their farm project, adding such was not what farmers needed to move forward.
Dr. Adegbemi Onigemo, a poultry farmer and Head, Animal Production Department, Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu said: “The enforcement of the ban is long overdue. In fact, it is a blessing to Nigeria because apart from the health implications arising from frozen poultry products, it will lead to the development of the poultry sub-sector of the animal husbandry.
“There are so many poultry farms that are now comatose or operating at less than 10 per cent of their installed capacity due to lack of profit resulting from importation.
“The Lagos State Polytechnic’s commercial poultry has a capacity for 5,000 laying birds, 10,000 rearing pens, and 500-stock for training.
“Recently, TETFund also constructed a 3,600-capacity automated laying pen and a 2,500-capacity brooder house, all costing about N25 million.
“All these facilities are lying fallow. So, the ban on importation will provide the market that all these things (meat) will go into and farmers will produce profitably, expand and create more jobs.’’
At the Lagos-Abeokuta road axis, the Manager of Oladipo Daniel Farms Ltd., Mr. Akeem Ayodeji, regretted that in Nigeria policies were made and not implemented.
He said: “Poultry farmers are hoping that the Nigeria Customs Service will not relax on the enforcement after a few weeks.
“The plight of poultry farmers will worsen if after few weeks the market is awash with banned frozen chicken. The local sellers and consumers have not been patronising poultry farmers and this scarcity will make them look inward to source their supply.
“This ultimately will make poultry farmers to work harder to meet the increase demand.”
Ayodeji, however, said that government needed to do more to address the issues that might hamper the poultry farmers’ determination to meet local demand.
According to him, along the Lagos-Abeokuta Road out of the six farms in the area, only Oladipo Daniel farm has survived with just skeletal operations.
He stated: “The daily production of the farm has dropped drastically from 1, 000 eggs per day to between 120 and 150 per day.
“We have lost chickens through contaminated feeds input and there is no provision to cushion such losses by government. We cannot even be involved in processing of chickens because of storage facility that would consume electricity among others.’’
Ayodeji said that government needed to urgently review the terms and conditions for accessing agriculture loans as it had made it difficult for the real farmers to get loans to boost their operations. (NAN)
Source News Express