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EuroTier 2021: Impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on livestock businesses in Africa

10 March 2021, at 12:00am

The Covid-19 pandemic caused chaos for the agricultural sector all around the world but was particularly troublesome in sub-Saharan Africa.

Details of a survey conducted by Agri Research International on the impact for poultry and livestock businesses in 10 sub-Saharan countries were presented at the virtual EuroTier 2021 exhibition.

The research focused on the impact on input distributors, feed mills, hatcheries and poultry integration plus the roads to recovery and business opportunities.

Xavier Cadiou, founder and CEO at Agri Research International, said: “The survey was carried out in August 2020 among 266 companies in the poultry and dairy sectors. The survey showed that during August 2020 the operating capital was low for most companies with 72% of them operating at 60% or below. In terms of turnover, 88% of the companies experienced a decrease in turnover while some experienced an actual increase.”

The report showed that farmers were in difficulty from the Covid-19 regulations with some in Tanzania closing down and poultry farmer in Ghana throwing away eggs and having to sell layers at low prices when markets collapsed.

“Covid-19 had an immediate impact on turnover,” said Cadiou. “When countries first went into lockdown, prices for livestock products dropped but companies maintained output volumes.

“As the lockdown continued companies reduced operations and in some cases reduced their herd or flock sizes. This in turn led to a decline in feed demand.

“The big question now is will recovery be different depending on business type, for example dairy, poultry, feed or distributor?” he said.

Looking more closely at the results, the survey showed that poultry layer businesses were the most impacted with 74% of these businesses experiencing a decline of over 25%.

Many table egg producers culled their stock when they couldn’t sell eggs and need to rebuild their flocks to recover. Hatcheries were the least impacted with 16% reporting growth.

It could be concluded that the hatcheries with parent stock are recovering quicker as there is a large demand for day old chicks. However at the same time the businesses importing hatching eggs had to stop or reduce their activities.

Around 11% of feed manufacturers reported having an increased turnover as they took market share perhaps because they had storage facilities and access to local raw materials.

Another statistic showed that 43% of companies reduced their permanent staff.

The main impact from the pandemic on the companies was that inputs were more expensive, and there were lower quantities of imported supplies.

In terms of recovery, Cadiou said, “Most companies were forecasting increasing operating capacity by December 2020. Around 53% said they expect to see a recovery to normal situation in the first half of 2021.”

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