A poultry expert and agric-business consultant, Pastor Francis Toromade has expressed concern over low production of maize and soybean which constitute the major ingredients needed for the production of chicken feed in Nigeria.
According to him, unavailability of quality raw materials in feed production remains the biggest challenge facing poultry businesses across the country while adding that, poultry farmers find it very difficult to feed their birds due to acute shortage of grains.
Toromade who shared this concern during an interview with journalists recently, explained that although the challenges facing the poultry industry cut across the entire poultry value chain; feed milling, hatchery, animal medicament, manufacturing companies, processing and packaging of eggs etc, the most critical of them all remains shortage of raw materials.
“Shortage of maize and soybeans for the production of feed as a result of high cost remain the major challenge facing poultry business in Nigeria. Maize and soybeans constitute 75 to 80 percent of the ration of raw materials and are a definite determinants of the landing cost of feed products.”
“The yield per hectare of maize and soybean in Nigeria is still low compared to other countries. The improved seed varieties for farmers to boost production are lacking and the finance to increase production areas by farmers are not there. All these factors have made our cost of maize and soybean production higher and unable to compete with imported ones.
“Micro ingredients such as amino acid, vitamins, minerals and enzymes are affected by the volatility of exchange rates and are not easily available because, they are all imported. This puts producers of feed at a disadvantage because they cannot compete at the international market” he said.
Toromade further explained that high cost of feed has a multiplier effect across the entire poultry value chain because it determines the cost of day old chicks, frozen chicken and the cost of eggs.
He called on the federal government to help boost local production of feed through provision of credible, available and accessible low interest loans, high quality fertilizer, rejuvenation of dormant research institutes to discover new and improved ways of developing high-yielding seeds and availability of farming equipment at affordable prices to poultry farmers.
He also advised that policies should be put in place by the Federal Government to reduce export of maize and soybean and ensure that there is enough for use by local farmers while adding that the country is presently experiencing acute shortage of soybeans.
“I see no reason why we should be exporting soybeans when we don’t have enough for local production. Many poultry businesses are groaning presently as a result of this scarcity. I can confirm to you that in the past two weeks, as a result of this scarcity, the price of soybeans in the country has increased by close to 40 per cent. If something is not quickly done about this, GDP expected from poultry will drop because local production will reduce, unemployment rate will increase because some poultry businesses that cannot cope may have to close down”.