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The security problem in some parts of the North, is having a negative effect on farming activities in both the Northern and Southern parts of the country, to the extent that many farmers could no longer visit their farms. Seye Adeniyi speaks with Dr Ibrahim Adekunle, the Chief Executive Officer of Global Vetcare Nigeria Limited, as he echoes the lamentations of farmers in the country and called on government to come to their rescue. Excerpts:
You looked so worried while talking to farmers and experts during a recently organised seminar. One would have thought that as a poultry farmer and agricultural expert like you should be able to accommodate any shock or hazard that might come your way in the practice of farming profession?
I want to say that practising farmers, especially poultry farmers are facing some challenges in recent times, especially in terms of security, drug prices, sales of poultry products, resistance to diseases, especially some emerging ones and most importantly, new diseases that are evolving in our society that we have to watch in poultry industry. This was one of the reasons we are organising seminars and enlightenment programmes for farmers and poultry management experts.
But your products especially eggs and chicken are hot cake in Nigerian markets. Egg as a proteinous food I believe is receiving high patronage just like other poultry products like turkey, chicken, etc. So why are you complaining?
If I may ask, how many eggs or chicken, turkey have you ate in the last one month? It will be a great disservice to this country if I failed to mention the current problems of poultry farmers in Nigeria. An average Nigeria farmer is faced with challenges like very high cost of inputs (drugs, electricity, water, transport, etc) with consistent dropping in the prices of outputs, like eggs, chicken, turkey, among others.
The sharp drop in the cost of eggs coupled with the fact that we can’t even sell the eggs in some parts of the country have remained major problems. I know that the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) has been doing their best, but I hope and pray that government will come to the aid of the farmers as soon as possible.
What is the business of the government in the marketing of poultry industry will she help you feed your birds or sell your eggs, chicken, etc?
Cut in ...It is important for the government to realise that poultry industry is one of the largest employers of labour in Nigeria (both skilled and unskilled) and the sector needs urgent attention from all the tiers of government.
Poultry industry, just like other areas of agriculture is facing a threat from the Boko Haram insurgency, amongst other existing problems and challenges.
Poultry industry, I must emphasise, is a big and on open industry that can produce a large number of employment opportunity for Nigerians, but it seems the government is not aware or probably not sensitive to this fact. So we are working hard to bring it to the ears of the government that this industry is dying and it must do something to revive it.
Are you sure that the poultry industry is dying because your members are doing fine. So what are the causative agents of your gradual death?
Honestly, poultry industry in Nigeria is dying and there are certain things responsible for the gradual death of the sector. Many people, especially agricultural experts, have also realised this and they have been raising their voices to prevent the death and that is what I’m also trying to do.
Government should come out to help and assist poultry farmers, in ensuring that there is reduction in the prices of inputs farmers use to practise their farming, it should help in making sure that agriculture produces get to the market to meet sales at the appropriate time
In spite of all these challenges facing your sector, what actually do you want from the leadership of this country?
Well, the first thing I would say is that the government must ensure that there is visible peace in different parts of the country, especially in the North. The Federal Government must make sure that an end is put to the problem created by religious fundamentalists which is affecting agriculture.
Government must also work hand-in-hand with our research institutes. I’ve always been saying this and I would continue to emphasise on it, that we should imbibe the culture of working hand-in-hand with our research institutes. We need minimal conditions for research institutes to flourish, government should help them by ensuring that inputs are supplied at cheaper rates, and I would also advise the country’s leadership to look into farm financing and see to the possibility of how we can sell our products internally. We need a vibrant, profitable, lucrative internal market policy/mechanism that would help farmers to increase their outputs once they are confident that there is a viable internal market for their produce.
Are you enjoying sales and making expected profit in recent time?
I want to tell Nigerians that egg is good for everybody contrary to some negative reports about it. Egg is also good and nutritious for children because it would ensure their development and growth. There is nothing bad if the government can enforce that would make egg to be given to school children especially at the primary school level free of charge.
I’m talking about a programme/policy of one egg per school child. Giving one egg to a pupil will develop his/her brain, enhance growth because egg is very nutritious. If government kick-start this programme, then we can work with crop farmers, assist them so that the price of egg will drastically come down so that everybody can afford to buy egg and eat one per day. If we do this, we would be able to compete effectively with the European nations and we would be able to take our agricultural produce to other nations, Nigeria by now should be supplying its agricultural produce to other West Africa nations of the world and most importantly, African countries.
What actually are the factors responsible for the loud noise of lamentation from poultry farmers and experts these days?
One of the factors is that the bulk of the eggs we consume in this country goes to the Northern parts of Nigeria and the insurgency of insecurity in the region has greatly affected the movement of eggs towards this part of the country. Most of the people from the North coming to the South to pick the eggs are no more coming, so moving eggs to the North now is like passing through the eye of a needle and the eggs are not even getting to the borders, from where it gets to other African countries for marketing.
From your lamentation, are you not justifying the saying that majority of Nigerians depend on the North for food supply?
It’s a bit difficult question, to answer, but it’s not okay to make a general statement. But I want to say that each part/segment of the country need each other or depend on each other.
Nevertheless, I will appreciate the fact that the bulk of the grains we use in this country comes from the North.
Crops like the groundnut cake, the soya bean, cowpea, pepper and vegetables, as well as maize mostly come from them. So if we look at it from this angle, we might conclude that we need or rely on the North for most of poultry feed ingredients and I also appreciate the fact that the zone has the major market for eggs and some other agricultural produce.
You will observe that this is the first time we are having a substantive Minister of Agriculture from the South, yet, some farmers, including poultry farmers are busy lamenting about one problem or the other. What do you think is causing this?
Well, the political situation of Nigeria is contributing, Boko Haram is causing it, but the problems we are talking about has always been there even before Dr Akinwumi Adesina became the minister. You should not also forget the fact that the farmers in the South depend on the North for the sales of their produce, but insecurity has blocked this opportunity. For instance, the Kano and Maiduguri markets are closed for the sales of eggs, poultry products and other agricultural produce and these are the two big agricultural markets in the North and for farmers in the South. So if we can get our eggs and other agricultural produce towards these two markets, you know that people would shout, even above their voice level.
It is not the Minister of Agriculture who is responsible for these complaints, it is the political and security problems facing Nigeria at present. But unless the Federal Government tackle the insecurity problem. I’m afraid, many poultry farmers maysuspend or quit the profession.Share