AFRICA - West Africa is getting stricter and stricter on poultry imports into the country, with Nigeria saying it has 180 million birds in production, giving it capacity to meet local demand while Ghana is set to receive assistance from the United States to boost its struggling poultry industry. This comes at a time when South Africa and the United States are said to have reached an agreement on imports of chicken products into Africa’s second largest economy.
Some African countries have resorted to destroying contraband of imported chicken products as well as eggs to fight growing poultry imports. The National Veterinary Research Institute in Nigeria says the country is now able to meet local demand, with 180 million birds in production.
“'The commercial poultry are layers and broilers, while the backyard birds are usually for domestic consumption and small scale sales,” said Dr Ahmed Mohammed, executive director of the institute.
He said of the 180 million Nigeria currently has in production, about 120 million birds are in rural poultry backyards while about 50 million of these are being produced by commercial growers.
Dr Mahommed said “the ban on the importation of poultry and poultry products” needed to be “strictly enforced to encourage local production”. chicken farmers are being urged to approach the Nigerian central bank for loans to kick-start poultry production projects.
In mid-September, Nigeria destroyed more than 2000 cartons of poultry products that had illegally been imported into the country. The Nigerian Customs Service has vowed to continue with seizures and destruction of smuggled poultry products, following up on an initial operation to seize and destroy illegally imported chickens and eggs in July.
Poultry producers in neighboring Ghana have not been so luck as their industry is struggling and in need of assistance. Chicken growers are looking up to receive a boost from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to offset its chicken importer status.
Last year, the west African country imported 144 000 tonnes of chicken, lower from the 2010 imports of 200,000, mainly sourced from producers in the United States, the European Union and Brazil. Reports say Ghana’s poultry industry woes have further been compounded by hatcheries that are running at only 60 per cent of capacity, subdued by declining demand.
“The project will contribute to increasing the supply of both meat and eggs to address ever-growing demand in Ghana”, Dr William Brown, Country Director of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, ADRA-Ghana was quoted as saying.
The USDA has partnered with other organisations such as the American Soybean Association and the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health to put in place a project to boost the country’s poultry industry. The project will help avail ready access to improved poultry feeds, expert training and other inputs.
The Ghanaian chicken producers had to import about 5 million day old chicks in the past year to cover for local production deficiencies. Information at hand shows that there are only about 6 hatcheries that are operational in the west African nation.
The country also imported about 435,509 eggs during the same period, according to Stephen Ockling, deputy director for Ghana’s Veterinary Services.
"The challenges are many, ranging from irregular supply to the low quality of starter stock. There is also low quality but high priced feed, inadequate watering facilities and inefficient disease control measures. Our poultry farmers don't also have access to credits and the liberalization of import trade is killing the local poultry industry, he explained," he said.
While Ghana was opening up to imports of day old chicks and other poultry production and Nigeria restricting such imports, South Africa and the United States were reported to have made progress with negotiations to allow the United states to start exports to South Africa.
The United States has been frustrated by South Africa’s slow pace and alleged reluctance to implement an agreement reached in June allowing for the re-entry of US chicken products into the South African market. The south African Ministry of Trade and Industry has said in a statement that the deal will finalised by October 15, a development that would allow the United States to start shipping chicken products into the African country by the end of this year.
“We look forward to successful implementation of the Paris agreement so the United States and South Africa can at last leave this trade dispute behind,” United States senators wrote in a letter to South African President, Jacob Zuma.
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