The Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Lagos State Chapter, has urged the three tiers of government to prioritize the agriculture sector in order to cushion the impact of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The group’s chairman, Mr Godwin Egbebe, made the call at the PAN’s two-day annual symposium on Wednesday in Lagos with the theme: “Post COVID-19 Effects on Poultry Industry – Way Out.”
Egbede said the symposium became pertinent to put poultry farmers in good stead to overcome the challenges they face in the sector.
“We are all aware of what has become of the poultry industry post-COVID-19 and we are here to talk about the way out.
“The prices of grains keep skyrocketing which in turn is making feed price to change on a weekly or sometimes daily basis like a moving train.
“I want to use this medium to call on both the federal and state governments to take agriculture as a priority over every other sector in order not to make our nation an angry nation because a hungry nation is an angry nation.
“The poultry industry is the worst hit of every business because of its volatility. Farms are closing daily and people losing their jobs and thrown into already saturated labor market.
“I am, however, very confident that after this program with the caliber of discussants and if the government and the people are willing to follow the recommendation from this program things will get better and we shall all smile again,” Egbebe said.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, said that understanding of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector would help the government to formulate relevant policies.
Olusanya said the ministry would support the poultry industry owing to its contribution to the agriculture sector’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
She was represented by Mr George Tanimowo, Head of Component (Extension Component)/Project Officer, Lagos State Agricultural Development Authority.
“The poultry industry was not left out from the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Nigerian poultry sector provides livelihood and employment to Lagos residents and the entire country.
“With a population of 180 million birds, the sector has been the major provider of animal protein contributing to the nutritional security of all age groups.
“The Nigerian poultry industry contributes approximately 25 per cent to the nation’s agriculture sector GDP.
“This is why the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the poultry industry is necessary to talk about.
“Holistic understanding of the effect of the pandemic on the sector will help to draw appropriate policies and device strategies to boost the sector.
“High cost of feed, loss of birds and inability to pay farm workers were some of the challenges facing the sector post-COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
Mr Abdulkabir Adedeji of Afex Solutions, an agriculture financing company, said access to adequate finance would help the sector soar above its challenges.
“When it comes down to what are the main challenges of poultry farming, paramount is access to feed and raw materials.
“We have also noticed over time that farmers, primary producers, livestock producers, have limited access to funding.
“We understand that one of the key drivers for production is funding and at that point, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) stepped in and introduced the Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme, which is still on.
“And that has helped a lot of commercial poultry farms to expand between 2008 and 2013.
“Adequate financing is important to move the poultry sector away from the harsh realities it is facing following the effects of the post-COVID-19 pandemic,” Adedeji said.
The symposium had in attendance poultry farmers from across the country and major stakeholders in the sector.