Global Economic Crisis Hits Nigeria's Poultry Industry

NIGERIA - Following a decade of oil-fuelled growth, the economy of Nigeria is reported to be close to collapse. The poultry industry, starved of investment during the good times, has remained largely as a backyard occupation. The article blames international and local banks, government and big business for this situation.
calendar icon 25 February 2009
clock icon 7 minute read

As the ripples generated by the current global economic meltdown and financial crisis in major advanced capitalist economies of the world, triggered by the collapse of leading financial institutions in the United States of America (Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers and AIG), brought about by the collapse of the housing market and high default experienced on sub-prime mortgages, continue to spread across the globe, developing economies of Third World countries like Nigeria, are experiencing the negative effects, reports All Africa.

The Nigerian economy is presently gravitating towards the brink of collapse, alleges the article. This has prompted the government to inaugurate the presidential steering committee on global economic meltdown, to recommend ways of alleviating the effects on Nigerians, essentially in the face of falling crude oil price at the international market, which has continued to shrink the available petrol-dollar wealth for official looting. This is coming after months of denial by government and its economic wizards, maintaining that the economy was immune, therefore, not susceptible to global economic vectors.

Contrary to government official figures, indicating that the economy was robust and healthy, the Nigerian economy has been long ailing, reports All Africa. This is besides the point that, Nigeria, potentially blessed with stupendous wealth (both natural and human resources), has made fabulous sums of money from crude oil. Between May 1999 till June 2008, the country has made unprecedented income totaling 30.78 trillion naira, accruing from the sales of crude oil at the international market. Yet, all sectors of the Nigerian economy remained largely underdeveloped, partly due to misappropriation, bad governance and corruption, but mainly traceable to implementation of World Bank/IMF dictated neo-liberal capitalist policies by successive governments. These pro-rich and anti-poor policies of free market, deregulation of petroleum industry, commercialization of education, privatisation of public utilities and globalisation, had ensured that our collective patrimonies are sold by government officials to themselves through fronted companies and their allies out side government, under the guise of government not having business doing business. This counter-productive system has created a few super-rich individuals, but thrown up decayed public infrastructure, collapse of industries, high cost of education without commensurate standard, poor health services, low agricultural production etc, leading to poor standard of living for the majority. This terrible state of affairs in Nigeria has impacted negatively on the economy, including the poultry industry.

The poultry sub-sector of the economy in Nigeria remains chiefly primitive. This is because government, at all levels, has neglected it for a long time. The poultry industry in Nigeria currently has about 10 per cent of the population, and is responsible for less than 15-18 per cent employment opportunities, due to the fact that the industry is mainly subsistent. Commercial poultry farming pioneered in late 50 and early 60, by Oke-Affa Farms, Isolo, Lagos witnessed increasing growth due to massive government investments, leading to the establishment of Ajayi Farms in Ikeja and Mitchell Farms, Agege, and other across the country. This subsequently brought about demands for agro-allied products, leading to the establishment of agro-allied industries, pioneered by Pfizer in commercial feed milling and veterinary pharmaceutical products.

The phenomenal growth in the industry continued uninterruptedly, with major investors like Obasanjo Farms, Zartect, CHI Ajanla, Sanbawa Farms, Anicare Konsult and UAC Marquis Farms coming on board, until 1986 when the industry suffered its first major attacks. This was a big setback to the industry, for large number of poor farmers suffered serious loses, which to date, some are still struggling to overcome. All Africa says the attack was occasioned by the military junta of Ibrahim Babagida's blanket imposition of World Bank/IMF-dictated neo-liberal capitalist policies of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP). This pro-rich, anti-people policy led to the massive devaluation of the naira, ban on the importation of grains (a major raw material in the poultry industry), commercialisation of education and other anti-poor policies, which made life unbearable for the poor majority, including farmers, who could not afford to feed their birds, due to high cost of production, resulting to closure of farms, whilst the big profiteers in the poultry industry made fortunes.

In Nigeria, the importance of the poultry industry cannot be over-emphasised because of the vital roles it plays in human nutrition. Of equal value is the employment opportunity it provides for the teeming population. The industry, if desired attention is paid by government at all levels, can successfully absorbs a large number of unemployed youths across the country, currently roaming about in search of unavailable jobs, through its chain of agro-allied industry; commercial feed and toll milling, poultry products processing, poultry marketing, veterinary pharmaceutical, hatchery operation and breeder farming. In addition, the industry, if properly harnessed, can also serve as source of foreign earnings, complementing the crude oil – our main sources of foreign earnings presently) – responsible for over 90 per cent of our exports. Eggs, a product of the industry, gives about 3.5 g of the total 7.2 g animal protein requires for individual dietary need per day. Again, broilers are the basis of every fast food outlets across the country. This is because chicken meat is cholesterol-free. Red meats like beef, mutton, pork, veal and venison contain cholesterol, which is responsible for the increasing rate of heart diseases amongst Nigerians in recent times.

The Nigerian poultry industry at the moment is bedevilled by enormous problems, according to the All Africa article. Among which are lack of government funding, lack of credit facility, high cost of feeding ingredients, diseases, increasing cost of medications, marketing and lack of storage facility. Lack of government investments in the agricultural sector, particularly the poultry industry is the bane of the industry. This is due to government adherence to neo-liberal economic policies as dictated by World Bank and IMF that forbid government direct investments and subsidies for the sector, leading to the collapse of farms owned by poor farmers across the country and the resultant lost of jobs, due to prohibitive cost of production. This made it possible for big farms like Obasanjo Farms Nig Ltd of Otta, Zartech Farms of Ibadan, CHI Ajanla Farms of Ibadan, Animalcare Services Konsult (Nig) Ltd of Ogerein Ogun State, Zarm Poultry and FeedMill Industry Ltd of Ilemona in Kwara state and Sambawa Farms Nig Ltd of Kaduna, in the northern part of the country to dominate the poultry business, amassing huge profits in the process, to the detriment of poor farmers.

Another obstacle confronting the poultry industry in Nigeria is the inability of a large number of farmers, particularly the poor ones, to secure loans from both commercial and micro finance banks across the country, according to All Africa. This is because most of these banks attach conditions beyond the reach of the farmers, including collateral (landed properties), 25 per cent interest rate, 3-6 months moratoria, and other sundry charges, making access to loans practically impossible for poor farmers, despite the banks' much vaunted farmer-friendly agricultural loans in Nigeria.

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