300,000 Metric Tons of Maize to Flood Market Soon to Save Jobs in Poultry Sector

In February, not less than 300,000 metric tons of maize will be released into the Nigerian market by strategic anchors under the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).

This good news is coming as the Western Nigeria’s wing of Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) is calling on the government to intervene in the worrisome grain crisis occasioned by incessant price increases that is adversely affecting the poultry sector.

PAN is decrying the acute scarcity of maize and soya bean, claiming that the poultry industry that worths billions of naira is likely to suffer a drastic collapse if Abuja fails to salvage the situation.

At stake according to it, are over five million jobs. PAN Chairman in the area, Dr. Olabode Adetoyi, said in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital that the acute scarcity and astronomical prices of soya bean and maize in the country is seriously threatening additional job creation.

Adetoyi who doubles as Ekiti State Commissioner for Agriculture, was represented by Dr Olalekan Odunsi, the General Secretary of PAN, South-West zone.

According to him, the sector is worth over N2.00 trillion in investment and has the leeway to create over 10 million jobs, directly and indirectly, pointing out that in the zone, the poultry industry in more than six decades has been growing consistently to a population of 30 million, with 60 percent representing the national poultry population.

Adetoyi is lamenting that the sector is on the verge of submerging due to the incessant rise in the price of feeds, which has largely affected the production capacity of poultry farmers, particularly in the region.

“Due to insufficient supply of maize against the huge demand by the poultry sector and other users, in about July 2020, the price rose from N105,000 to N165,000. The price further rose to as high as N185,000 per ton, when a ban on forex for the importation of maize was announced by the CBN, amid the initial hike in price.

“The concession to import 262,000MT was given to some poultry stakeholders, after much public outcry by poultry farmers. This had long been done. In the onset of harvest, which was November 2020, it was obvious that our local production is grossly inadequate to support the poultry industry through 2021”, he says.

Adding, he said inadequate rainfall, insecurity and herdsmen challenges, illegal export activities, and the high demand for maize in the poultry sector, due to the Broiler Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) of the government, have drastic effects on the sector.

“As of today, maize is N210,000/MT in most states of the Southwest, and soya is N240,000/MT. Since these two items form about 75 to 78 percent of an average poultry ration, the price of poultry feed has continuously been on the increase from N2750 to N3000 in April 2020 to N4850 to N5300 today.

“In December, most farmers from small to large were unable to sell their broiler because the cost of production was even higher than what an average Nigerian can afford. Presently, egg is going out of the reach of an average family with ideal price at N1300 per crate, but the farm gate price is N1000 to N1100, a price that will force farmers to close down”, Adetoyi explains.

PAN is however, praying the government to approve the urgent importation of animal feed grade of maize, to sustain 50 million layers, 100 million broilers, one million breeders and other classes of poultry, until the next season.

It is also calling on the government to enforce a ban on the export of Soya, both seed and the processed meal, while urging it to prioritise the cultivation of maize across the country, and for a strong partnership between Maize Farmers Association of Nigeria, Soya Farmers Association of Nigeria and PAN, to determine the body’s actual yearly need and assessing the latter yield, vis-a-vis the need for proper planning.

PAN State Chairmen are urging Abuja to extend the all-year-round irrigation systems to the Southwest and also add eggs to the School Feeding Programme, and South-West governors to fast-track irrigation across all value chains, even as the effect of climate change continues to derail agricultural activity.

In the mean time, National President of Maize Association of Nigeria, Bello Abubakar, who announced that not less than 300,000 metric tons of maize will be released into the market added that the release will lead to a crash in the price of the commodity.

Last July, the Buhari administration placed a ban on the issuance of forex for the importation of maize which ignited increased demand from local processors, and a resultant scarcity and price inflation.

The aftermath of the order was the sale of the commodity for N155,000 per metric ton, with several consumers and poultry farmers feeling the brunt.

Abubakar, however, notes that the situation will be under control by February, as the CBN has now released credit to about 2,000 farmers which will, in turn, facilitate the increase in their production capacity.

According to him, this will bolster maize production as well as lead to a drop in the price of maize, from N155,000 per metric tonne to N120,000 per metric tonne. He also attributed the shortfall in the quantity of maize available in the market to insecurity around the major maize producing belt of Niger, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and part of Kano states.

While pointing out that hoarders and middlemen are responsible for the scarcity and exorbitant price of maize, he also noted that the situation has not deterred the farmers from fulfilling their mandate- to help the country attain a state of self-sufficiency in food production.

He is charging middlemen to avoid hiking the price, owing to the existing supply gap and urged the Federal Government to put in place adequate measures to protect farmers from market shocks.

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