LAGOS – Farmers in the poultry and aquaculture industries in the country have continued to lament the effect of the lockdown occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic since March which according to them is having negative effects of their various businesses.
Some of the farmers and investors also lamented the further closure of the hospitality sector of the economy which according to them has been a boost to their businesses.
They said that businesses of hoteliers, event Centre owners, bar and clubbing joints operators and merry makers have been jeopardised, and suppliers of chickens, vegetables, barbeques, eggs and food to these outlets have been battered as these social businesses remain closed.
Stephen Olufemi, General Secretary, Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Lagos state chapter lamented that it has affected poultry farmers seriously, that most places where their produce are consumed are under lock and key as directed by the government to reduce the spread of the pandemic.
“The continued lockdown of the hospitality sector is seriously affecting our businesses because most places where our chicken are been consumed did not open for business; places like hotels, bars, restaurants among others.
“So, it is very difficult to sell our chicken where they normally consume almost 100 birds in a day, they do not even consume anything now, as a result of this our chicken are in the cold room, there is no way to dispose them. The cold rooms are filled up now and we cannot process the birds on the farm now. It is really affecting us seriously.
“The school feeding programme is also part of those consuming our chicken and eggs, we are having egg glut now, we are begging people to buy eggs now because eggs cannot stay for a very long time before it get rotten, a lot of farmers are burying their eggs now because people are not buying. Those buying in large quantities are currently not operating.
Olufemi further stated that lockdown has also affected the farmers in the area of feed production.
“We normally bring in maize, soybean and other ingredients to make feed from the north and because of the lockdown they could not transport from the north down to the south here, so as a result of this the prices have gone up seriously,” he added.
Oloye Rotimi Olibale, National President, Catfish and Allied Fish Framers Association of Nigeria (CAFFAN), said that their products are mostly used for social events, thus the lockdown has very serious negative effects on their businesses.
He said that it is essential for the government to work out a support for cat fish farmers in the country because most of them are out of jobs.
“That is why it is essential for the government to work out a support for us because most of us are already out of jobs as our entire capital had gone to continuous loss in the past three months as the few sales made were a total loss,” he said.
In his own view, Ayo Arikawe, Chief Technology Officer, Thrive Agric, a crowd-funding platform for agro-allied investments, stated that chickens from their farms are mostly sold to “processors, who, in turn, sell to restaurants and hotels, and we know this affects their sales, making them keep more stocks in cold rooms unnecessarily, and there is an increased logistics cost for them. We essentially reduce the birds stocked this period to match off-takers’ demand,” he said.
Taofeek Badmus, General Manager, Tuns Farms in Osogbo, Osun State, stated that apart from inability to sell products because most off-takers are off business, the cost of feeds for the poultry is too costly, making production and sustainability a difficulty.
“The truth is that we are facing the brunt during this time. The cost of raw materials has seen a steady rise, while the cost of final product has been stagnant.
“The closure of hotels, event Centres and functions has also affected sales of farm products with many of us having large stocks of finished products. Our experience was particularly painful during the lockdown as we kept on feeding birds and there was no market to sell them.
“The sale has reduced drastically. There is also a glut of products now and everybody is now forced to sell at lower prices,” he lamented.
Nurudeen Tiamiyu, National Vice President Tilapia Aquaculture Developers Association of Nigeria (TADAN) said that the aquaculture industry is the most affected because the hospitality sector is their main customers that people buying to eat at home is low compare to the hospitality sector.
“The aquaculture industry is the most affected from my own view because the hospitality sector is our main customers because people hardly eat these fishes at home. It is the joint, bar, restaurants and hotels that patronise us more than those who eat at home. It has been a major hit on our sector than any other sector,” he said.
Tiamiyu also said that farmers are just feeding their fish on the farm for the fish to survive, adding that those who are producing fingerlings cannot produce because those doing growers are not getting market for their growers.
“People just have fish on their farm they are just giving maintenance ration for the fish to just survive on their farms. The people producing fingerlings cannot produce because those doing growers are not getting market for their growers. They are just feeding them in their farms and those people that want to sell at loss are doing that,” he lamented.
Ayoola Oluga, Managing Director, Agrecourse Limited, another crowd-funding platform for agriculture, said that agriculture had gained a lot of traction in the last one year, especially since the Federal Government closed the land borders that many smallholder farmers had reaped the benefits of increased production and increased income.
“With the advent of the coronavirus, another set of problems have risen. Some farmers have continued to find it difficult to sell their products, especially fish farmers. This is mainly due to the shutdown of the hospitality sector, where you find the major off-takers. We are experiencing low patronage,” he said.
Also, Ayodele Alabi, Chief Operating Officer, Agro Park, said as a result of the restrictions across the country, a good number of the off-take partners had either reduced or totally shut down operations.
“We are diversifying into staple crops like maize, sweet corn, soya, rice, beans, and we have cultivated about 130 hectares of maize; 10 hectares of sweet corn; 40 hectares of rice; 85 hectares of land is ready for second ploughing for soya; 100 hectares of land is at 65 per cent completion for beans cultivation and for, livestock, we have signed contracts with off-taker partners with a strong ecommerce platform, which has taken about 20 per cent of our stock in four weeks.
Adding, “the moves, were done because we understand that post- COVID-19, the demand for food will rise, and we are strategically positioning to take a huge market share.”