POULTRY farmers in Nigeria have decried the scarcity and continuous rise in the price of maize, stressing that it posed a major threat to their businesses and food security in the country
Maize, which constitutes over 50 per cent of poultry feed, is currently very scarce; and where available, the prices have skyrocketed and cannot be afforded by majority of the poultry farmers.
Mrs. Blessing Dominic, a Plateau State-based poultry farmer who rears both broiler and layer birds, said her birds no longer feed properly due to the unavailability of feeds as a result of the scarcity of maize.
She added that she had to lay off some of her staff recently because her business was becoming unprofitable.
Another poultry farmer, Mr. Emwinghare Osaze, who is based in Benin, Edo State, described the current scarcity and increase in the price of maize as a threat to the poultry business.
“The government is trying to discourage the importation of frozen chicken and majority of us poultry farmers are trying to go into broiler production and processing. But with this increase in the price of maize and the non-availability, I really don’t see how we are going to survive,” he said.
Chairman, Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Delta State chapter, Chief Alfred Mrakpor, urged the government to permit the importation of maize into Nigeria as a result of the shortage of the product.
He described the scarcity of maize as a threat to Nigeria’s food security. According to him, several poultries had already shut down.
He said: “The rising cost of maize is threatening livelihoods of small businesses in Nigeria. It is not only poultry farmers’ investments that are threatened, but also other players in the value chain such as feed producers, chicken and egg vendors, processors, grain traders, veterinary doctors and drug vendors among others, thus plunging the economy into deeper crisis.
A maize supplier, Austin Eze, said the poultry industry is in dire situation as a result of the scarcity. “We are getting to the point where there will almost be nothing available for anybody to use. On a normal day, when you go to buy maize in some markets, you can fill 40 trucks. Currently, you can’t even fill a truck. The scarcity of maize is a major problem right now.”
Similarly, Mr. Shehu Muazu, who also supplies grains said his search for maize to supply his customers has been fruitless. He said that the high prices and the scarcity of the crop had instilled fear amongst animal feed manufacturers.
“For past three weeks, I have been receiving calls from feed mills that they need more maize but we can’t find any because of the current scarcity. This is the business I depend on to make ends meet. If I can’t supply, then I also have a problem because I won’t be able to feed my family,” he said.