Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Mohammed Sabo Nanono, is currently a seeming frantic effort to abort a massive loss of jobs in the agricultural sector of Nigeria’s economy.
The minister is expected to meet with stakeholders of Feed Industry Practitioners Association of Nigeria (FIPAN), and others this Thursday in Abuja, the country’s capital city.
FIPAN is pressing the Federal Government to support the sub-sector by releasing grains from its reserve to feed millers at an affordable price.
Alternatively, the government could allow the importation of grains for a short period to remedy the domestic situation, the association said.
Explaining the crisis situation, FIPAN says, “maize, sorghum and soybean meal which aggregately constitute about 80% of animal feeds are in chronic shortages and have become extremely scarce in the market.’’
Technical Adviser on Knowledge Management and Communication to the minister, Richard Mark-Mbaram, who disclosed the proposed engagement, says the meeting is a sequel to a June 18 letter by FIPAN’s President, Dr Fola Afelumo, to the ministry seeking government intervention in the livestock sub-sector.
The association in the letter decried what it called “the looming danger threatening to consume our livestock industry”, and decried the shortage and exorbitant price of grains which has made feed production by millers difficult, forcing some to shut down.
“Concomitantly, we have seen sharp increases in prices rising to about 100% within a period of one month. For instance, maize which sold for about N95, 000 per metric ton in May is now about N180, 000 and still rising by the day.
“Some feed millers are already shutting down due to their inability to purchase these grains because of extremely high cost and scarcity.
“At current market prices, it has become very difficult for feed millers to pass some of their costs to farmers, while the looming consequences might result in more feed millers and farmers closing down business in the face of increasing consumer price resistance.
“This scenario will invariably trigger huge job losses at several levels of the industry including the distributive and supply chain with its attendant negative impact on the overall health of the economy.”
FIPAN notes that should the industry collapse as a result of the current farming challenges in the grain-producing regions of the country, it could take between six to eight months before poultry farmers could confidently restock their farms.
This, it said, could also lead to severe protein shortages in the country. The collapse would further disrupt the grains market and the entire agricultural value chain, it added.
It, therefore, prayed for the government’s intervention.
“We humbly appeal to the Federal Government to release grains from its strategic grain reserves to feed millers at an affordable price as a strategy to mitigate the looming danger and hence avert the imminent collapse of the entire industry value chain.
“We believe that if initiated, it would prompt hoarders of grains to release them into the market and, hence, check their tendencies to covertly sabotage government agricultural policy initiatives and the economy.
“In the event of the government not having enough grains at its strategic reserves, it should consider immediately opening a short time window for the importation of grains, especially maize and soybean for members of our association, while also providing a special foreign exchange window for such imports to remedy this emergent situation.”