Thousands of poultry farmers from across Nigeria have continued to express deep sadness occasioned by lack of profit and outright losses of their capital in the 2020 festive season target investment.
Legit.ng’s regional reporter in Osun, Gboyega Bakare, who spoke with the unhappy farmers gathered from large and smallholder farmers from across the country that the year 2020 was terrible for the members of the Poultry Farmers Associations in Nigeria.
This sad reality is unreservedly antithetical to the popular narrative that border closure would bring about an increase in demand for homegrown foods and more profit for local farmers.
Revealing his state of unhappiness, a young farmer, Olanrewaju Babatunde Yussuf said:
"I regret doing broiler business this year; it was like I wasted my time, effort and money. Cost of production was too high and buyers' low purchasing power forced down the sales price. I'm out of the business"
Reacting to his statement, other members of the group equally expressed their dissatisfaction with the unreasonably high cost of day-old chicks (DOC), prohibitive price of feeds and medications which, they said, eat so much into their profits, making them lose some of their capital in the process.
While talking to Legit.ng, a poultry farmer simply identified as Ogundare, who has his farm in Osun state, lamented bitterly:
"I have been doing poultry farming for the past seven years. 2020 went down as the worst in my professional poultry farming history."
'The downturn started around May 2020 when the price of day-old chicks, which used to sell for between N120 and N200 at such a long distance from December suddenly rose to between N350 and N500, depending on the hatchery. We thought it would come down but it continued to rise until it peaked at N750/day-old chick in September.
"It was even worse for farmers in the east and north because the best hatcheries are located in the south-west; so they had to contend with logistics cost too. The cost of feeds and medications too rose sharply by 100% as a bag of 25kg feed that we used to buy for around N2800 and N3150 went up to N6000 and more. It was really a bad year for poultry farmers."
It was the same song of lamentation for Mrs Benson, a poultry farmer in Shagamu, Ogun state. She told Legit.ng:
"Many of us can never invest in poultry farming again due to the huge losses we incurred last year. Our cost of production was just too high and consumers, due to the economic hardship occasioned by COVID-19, could not afford to buy chicken at any price higher than the usual. So we had to sell, mostly at very low and no-gain prices to avoid feeding the birds continuously. Even at that, so many of our birds remained unsold.
"What we have learnt from this is that the government is not really serious about making the nation food-sufficient enough to consume what we produce. The business environment in Nigeria is very unpredictable."
Mrs Benson lamented that there were supposed to be regulations to protect investors in agriculture in order to encourage more participation.
She added: "It was the rise in the cost of maize, the most important item in feeds formulation that triggered the series of rising costs of farm inputs."It is not unknown that a very large percentage of the maize used in Nigeria is imported. The border closure without a proper evaluation of its immediate effects and lack of provision for import-dependent consumers may have been a huge setback.
"One would think that the government must have mandated and allowed large scale maize users like feed mills to cultivate at least 50% of their annual maize requirements before closing the border on maize importation among others. As I'm talking with you, only the price of DOC has come down to about #250, the cost of feeds still remains very high."
With the challenges raised by the affected farmers, it is hoped that the Nigerian government will rise to the occasion and evaluate related policies, while urgently addressing the needs of local farmers for the good of all Nigerians.