Hope raises for poultry farmers in Nigeria

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

The Nigerian government has increased the hopes of poultry farmers as it promised to intervene in various issues concerning their business.

The farmers had a crucial meeting with the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on Friday.

It was the second meeting with the representatives of the poultry industry in a week as Professor Osinbajo continued to seek for ways to offer relief measures to the industry.

The poultry industry had to contend with a number of challenges including an outbreak of ‘Avian Influenza’ which affected almost four million birds in 2015, non-allocation of Foreign Exchange for the importation of needed machinery, high production costs in the industry and other critical inputs.

“The poultry industry is a local industry that needs to be protected urgently,” the Acting President said.

Professor Osinbajo stated that the industry should be a major plank of the agriculture sector, promising that the Buhari-led government would assist poultry farmers to tackle the challenges they faced.

He stressed that by supporting the local industry, poultry related importation which is currently a drain on the country’s Foreign Exchange, could be a thing of the past.

Professor Osinbajo is leading an urgent effort by the government to address the challenges in Agriculture sector.

Aiding farmers
The Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, who briefed State House Correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, said government was working out a programme that would aid poultry farmers.

Lokpobiri said the meeting also considered the issue of smuggling of poultry products, agricultural equipment which benefit from the policy of zero duties and the ‘Avian influenza virus’ that led to the destruction of a lot of birds in Nigeria in 2015.

“Part of the reasons we have people with certain diseases is because of the health hazards occasioned by the consumption of frozen chicken. Most times what is used, is the chemical used to preserve dead bodies and it causes a lot of harm to the kidneys, “the minister said.

Dr. Ayoola Oduntan led the delegation of the Poultry Association of Nigeria, to present the industry’s challenges to the meeting.

He said that poultry presently contributes 25 percent of the Agricultural Gross Domestic Product of the Nigerian economy amounting to N1.6 trillion.

“Nigeria is rated as the number one egg-producing nation in Africa and number four poultry meat producer in the continent,” Dr. Oduntan added.

The government is now in the process of concluding decisions on specific lines of action targeted at the challenges facing the industry, a sub-sector that is said to generate over 14 million direct and indirect jobs.

Also present at the meeting were the Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Colonel Hameed Ali and the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele.