The Programme Director, Lagos Business School Agribusiness programme, Ikechukwu Kelikume,has warned that the recent directive by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), banning the importation of maize may spell doom for poultry farmers across the country.
He said that poultry farmers are already beginning to cut down on production because of the high cost of feed and imported medication for the birds, stressing that the directive is ill-timed with huge negative consequences for Nigeria’s poultry sector.
Kelikume in a media parley with journalists stated that the policy could further compound the woes of poultry farmers given that maize, which constitutes over 50 per cent of poultry feed content is currently very scare, and where available, is very expensive, even as the price keeps rising.
Although, he admitted that the CBN’s earlier policies on Agric, Small and Medium enterprise scheme and the Anchor Borrowers Programme have been largely successful, and opined that the current decision to discontinue the processing of Form M for the importation of Maize could reverse the gains of those interventions.
“The situation may spell doom for poultry farmers across the country that is beginning to cut down on production because of the high cost of feed and imported medication for the birds. A negative spillover effect of the high cost of feed is the scarcity of eggs and a consequent rise in its price across the country.
“The implications of the current challenges in the maize value chain are that the gains of employing more people in the agricultural sector will be rolled back in the coming months.
“As it stands, there is no alternative for the poultry farmers, as the poultry sector will face a catastrophic shortage of feeds, a critical input in their business. This situation will render tens of thousands of them unemployed and undo all the gains made by this sector in the past five years. Thousands of poultry businesses will shut down in the face of high operating costs, leaving business owners and their employees without means of livelihood,” he added.
Speaking further, he said that the apex bank’s decision to ban maize importation was too abrupt, urging the CBN to reverse the decision.
“As a matter of necessity, the CBN’s decision to discontinue the processing of Form M for the importation of Maize/Corn must be revisited. It is expedient at this time for the Central Bank to allow importers of Maize to import it through the CBN Foreign exchange window, to close the gap in maize shortage while preparing for a phased discontinuation of maize importation in the country,” he said.
He estimated the current shortfall in the maize value chain to be around 100,000 metric tons, which translates to an import bill of less than $20 million, describing that as a negligible import burden, even in the current tight foreign exchange situation, and a small price to pay to salvage the poultry sector.