NIGERIA - Prices of foreign poultry have risen by 28.5 per cent in Nigeria after the Customs Service launched 'Operation Hawk Descend', which aims to quash the smuggling of frozen poultry products into the country.
Prices of locally reared birds have increased by about 25 per cent, reported The Punch in Nigeria.
The Operation Hawk Descend, which was launched on July 7, 2015 at the Seme border, was expected to be conducted in Nigeria’s border with neighbouring countries, especially in Lagos, Ogun and Oyo states, and last for an initial period of three months, ending in September.
A trader in frozen chicken at the Berger Market in Lagos State, Mrs Joy Obong, told The Punch that the rise in the price of imported poultry began shortly after the launch of Operation Hawk Descend.
She said: “Even though the Federal Government had long banned the importation of poultry, people were still bringing the items in through the Seme border. The Customs officials were aware of it.
“But since they did that very public launch a week ago and made announcements all over the news channels, the Customs officials have become very strict about the enforcement of the import ban. Now, they do not let any frozen poultry get past the borders.”
Mrs Obong added that though she still had some old stock left, the scarcity of poultry had forced the price of a kilogramme of frozen chicken to rise to 900 Naira (N) from N700 previously, which is a 28.5 per cent rise.
“Although the Customs are very strict now, some people use the waterways and the creeks to smuggle the products from Benin Republic. This time, they bring them in through Sango in Ogun State. Even at that, it is just a few people that are willing to take this risk,” she added.
Another trader, Mrs Sola Oyenuga, lamented the corresponding increase in the prices of locally breed poultry, adding that a kilo of frozen locally bred poultry, which sold for N800 two weeks ago, now costs N1000.
She accused poultry farmers in the country of taking advantage of the situation to make obscene profits.
Mrs Oyenuga said, “Many poultry farms also package and freeze their products but because of the difference of about N200 per kilo between the locally bred birds and the imported ones, most people chose to buy the imported birds.
“Since the enforcement of the ban was started by the Customs, indigenous poultry farmers have been rejoicing. I expect them to use this opportunity to get customers for their products, but instead, they are trying to take advantage to fleece Nigerians.
“You can see how high the price has gone in a week. They cannot justify this increase because their cost of production has not gone up. If this situation continues, Nigerians may no longer be able to afford to buy poultry.”
Mr Onallo Akpan, the Director-General of the Poultry Association of Nigeria, had during the launch of Operation Hawk Descend lamented the destruction of the local poultry industry by the continued patronage of imported products.
He described the local poultry industry as one of the critical drivers of the Nigerian economy and pleaded for public cooperation with the Consumers Protection Council and other stakeholders to rid Nigerian markets of imported poultry.
Mr Akpan said: “Nigerians are worse off by the continued patronage of unwholesome smuggled poultry, mostly from the Republic of Benin.
“If this trend is not checked and brought under control, the huge investment in the poultry industry may be rendered unproductive and the economy brought into a total collapse.”ThePoultrySite News Desk