The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has cleared the air that it is not a ban on maize importation alone that is the sole cause of the price increase of the commodity as believed in the industry.
This was stated by the principal manager, Anchor Borrowers Unit, Team Lead, Poultry Working Group, CBN, Okunola Abiodun, on Webinar organised by Wandieville Media on the topic, ‘Nigeria’s Ban on Maize Importation: Implication on the Poultry Industry and Opportunities for Alternative Feed’.
According to Abiodun, the policy is not the sole contributor to the increase in maize price, but the dynamics of food prices coupled with the effect of the lockdown and change in weather conditions have also led to an increase in the price of commodities.
He also called for the protection of smallholder farmers in the industry as about 30 percent of maize production is wasted due to lack of storage facilities.
However, urged stakeholders to build processing centers for smallholder farmers as a panacea to address the protracted challenge of post-harvest losses in order to increase the supply of maize as a way to mitigate.
It has been a challenge in Nigeria’s poultry industry since CBN revised the forex policy that banned importers of maize from accessing forex from the apex bank. Stakeholders are currently nervous due to the negative impact it has made on their business. Currently, stakeholders are calling for urgent solutions and strategies to tackle the pressure the policy has placed the industry as far as the high cost of poultry feed is concerned.
Wandieville, organizer of the virtual meeting deemed it fit to put a series of webinars involving relevant stakeholders to discuss the new policy; the second day of the webinar which held on Thursday, August 27, 2020, focused on ‘Nigeria’s Ban on Maize Importation: Implication on the Poultry Industry and Opportunities for Alternative Feed’ with stakeholders from the poultry industry and the CBN.
The panelists for the session include Principal Manager, Anchor Borrowers Unit/Team Lead, Poultry Working Group, CBN Abuja Okunola Abiodun; Director-General, Poultry Association of Nigeria, PAN, Onallo Akpa; Country Representative for the International Livestock Research Institution, ILRI, Nigeria, Dr Tunde Amole; Chief Executive Officer, Farmkart Foods, Jesse Osiobe; Chief Executive Officer, Demirs Farms/Chairperson, Poultry Association of Nigeria, PAN, Oyo Chapter, Blessing Alawode, CEO, Terudee Farms Ltd/ All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, Oyo Chapter, Engr John Oluwoye Olateru; and Financial Journalist (Macroeconomy and Development), Stears Business, the moderator of the discussion, Gbemisola Alonge.
He said: “Relevant stakeholders need to join forces to create alternatives sources of carbohydrate for the production of poultry feed. “The policy is not the sole contributor to the increase in maize price; the dynamics of food prices coupled with the effect of the lockdown and change in weather conditions have also led to an increase in the price of commodities.
“There are no fast routes to economic development. There is no silver bullet to this. We should collaborate and come together to sort out ways. You cannot leave the power to produce food for your people in the hands of strangers.”
He further stated that poultry farmers could create more sources of income for themselves from their farms, which he pointed that manure can be converted to biogas as an energy source to cut down operational costs within the farm while eggs can be processed into powder to secure the patronage of institutional buyers.
He added that these technological innovations when pitched with good business plans will be financed by the CBN through various schemes and stakeholders should come together to seek viable solutions for the poultry industry. In a reaction, the Chief Executive Officer of Demris Farms/Chairperson, Poultry Association of Nigeria, PAN, Oyo Chapter, Blessing Alawode, lamented while explaining the inelastic nature of the demand for eggs, which has led to a loss on investment in the industry.
Alawode pointed out that the success and sustainability of any poultry business lie in the ability to “restock farm produce”, which the policy has further made it difficult for farmers to do the needful in their businesses.
“The poultry farmer is having a hard time because he is unable to replace his stock and this means downsizing which will lead to unemployment for a few hands the farmer engages and loss of investments”, she stated. Also reacting to the policy Country Representative for the International Livestock Research Institution, ILRI, Nigeria, Tunde Adegoke Amole, decried the move by the CBN, which he alleged that the apex bank did not carry out wide consultation before coming up with the policy to ban maize importation.
Amole said, “Solving a problem to create another one has always been a mode of operation in this country. To what extent did the CBN work with other stakeholders before bringing this out?” He also asserted that maize is not a commodity consumed only by the livestock industry, but also largely consumed by humans as a major staple food in most households, hence the price increase of maize is affecting the nutrition of Nigerians as it has become highly unaffordable in the market.
He also added that cassava is an alternative for feed mills, but it is also a source of food for humans, therefore focus has to be shifted to cassava peels.
“Let us look beyond cassava and look into the peels, if we accept this, we will solve the problem of environmental pollution, increase in maize price and challenges we have with livestock”, he said.
Meanwhile, the director-general, PAN, Onallo Akpa, said there has to be a development plan at all levels with working systems to properly harness the potentials in the sector.
He added that other crops such as palm oil, sorghum, and others can serve as substitutes for maize in the feed mills and the government can engage stakeholders in commercial agriculture to meet the demand for maize.
However, the CEO, Terudee Farms Ltd/ All Farmers Association of Nigeria, AFAN, Oyo Chapter, John Oluwoye Olateru, asked for the government’s support and intervention for price stability and also the price of cassava peels when the demand for it increases.
Olateru maintained that cassava peels remain a viable alternative, which needs attention, and according to him accessing funds to finance technological innovations is faced with a myriad of challenges that have to be addressed to make sure that the initiative benefits players in the industry.