Uche Usim, Abuja
To grow local poultry production, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Monday vowed to stop the illegal importation of frozen poultry into Nigeria.
The apex bank said Benin Republic remains the primary channel from where poultry products illegally enter the country, even as it expressed worry over an estimated 1.2 million metric tonnes of poultry that comes into Nigeria.
The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, made the vow in Abuja during a meeting with Vice Chancellors of Universities on the university-based poultry revival programme.
According to him, the objective of the meeting was to enable stakeholders in the sector take a critical look at the existing poultry production infrastructure with a view to addressing the challenges.
Represented by CBN Deputy Governor, Economic Policy, Dr Okwu Nnanna, the Governor described the poultry sub-sector as the most commercialized of all Nigeria’s agricultural sub-sectors, stressing that the apex bank worrisome adding that measures are being taken by the apex bank was determined to check the ugly trend of influx of poultry products into Nigeria.
He said the sub- sector contributes about 25 per cent of agricultural Gross Domestic Product to the Nigerian economy with a current net worth of about N1.6 trillion.
He put the chicken population in Nigeria at about 165 million, pointing out that the birds produce approximately 650,000MT and 300,00MT of eggs and meat respectively.
He put the demand for birds at over 200 million, while the demand for eggs and meat are about 790,000MT and 1,500,000MT respectively.
This, according to him has resulted into a huge demand gap which unfortunately, is met by smuggling.
He said, “It is estimated that over 1.2 million MT of poultry meat is smuggled into Nigeria from Benin Republic by some unscrupulous Nigerians. This is really unfortunate, and we are poised to stop it.
“The Nigerian poultry sector faces high production costs, safety concerns due to lack of sanitary controls, and technical constraints in processing and marketing.
“Production costs are generally high due to lack of an integrated and automated industrial poultry sector. Poultry producers lack reliable access to inputs including chicks and feed as well as high costs of veterinary services.
“More importantly, is the problem of lack of access to low cost, long tenured finance, which though is not peculiar to the industry but most be resolved.”
In tackling these challenges, Emefiele said the CBN has deployed instruments through its interventions such as the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, Real Sector Support Facility among others.
For example, the governor said the sum of N35.9bn has been released to 166 projects under CACS while N507m to 433 farmers and N238m for 112 projects were disbursed under the Agri-Business Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme.
“We have also recently financed the pioneer egg-powder production company in Nigeria to the tune of N2bn under the Differentiated Cash Reserve Requirement-Real Sector Support Facility window,” he added.
In spite of these constraints, he said there remains a huge potential for the industry in Nigeria.
The governor stated, “The demand for poultry products is expanding as a result of population growth. The Nigeria population is projected at 400 million by 2050 and 280 million are projected to live in the cities, significantly increasing the demand for poultry products.
“Also, per capita consumption of chicken is still very low at 2.5kg in Nigeria, when compared to Brazil and South Africa at 30kg and 40 kg respectively, while per capita consumption of eggs in Nigeria is 60 eggs per annum compared to 250 to 300 eggs per annum in most advanced countries.
” The school feeding programme of the present administration also remains a huge potential yet to be fully tapped. Generally, poultry represents an important source of high quality animal protein.”
To unlock the potential of poultry producers, he said the CBN has initiating a university-based Poultry Revival Programme with the objectives to produce chicken meat and egg to reduce importation and close the existing demand and supply gap.
In his remarks, the National President, Poultry Association of Nigeria, Mr Ezekiel Ibrahim said the apex bank interventions would help stimulate the sector.
He added that poultry farmers are faced with huge challenges adding that loans by the CBN should be disbursed at a lower rate of five per cent.
The programme would also assist in raising a new crop of agropreneurs in modern poultry production, provide infrastructure that would support the sustainable production of poultry, and reduce pressure for foreign exchange demand through import substitution by local poultry production.
The CBN hopes to rely on the university based poultry production model because they have existing infrastructure, experience and human assets to enable production at reduced cost and in a competitive manner.
The apex bank has structured the programme to ensure that they can be accessed by those who need them the most and are ready to operate their facilities in a commercially viable manner.