The continued scarcity of the naira has crashed many poultry businesses and the industry may collapse before the incoming administration takes over the government by May ending if nothing is done to salvage the situation, operators in the sector warned on Monday.
It was also gathered that over 80 per cent of eggs that were laid since the first week of February this year by about 76 million commercial layers (birds), were not sold due to the inability of consumers to make purchases with cash.
The Director-General, Poultry Association of Nigeria, Dr Onallo Akpa, who spoke on behalf of poultry farmers, told our correspondent in Abuja that most consumers of eggs and other poultry products often carried out cash transactions.
“But what we are facing since February is that people have no access to cash. The wholesalers who buy at the farm-gate price are to retail these eggs to consumers or retailers.
“But the consumers have no money to buy the eggs; even when they have the money in their accounts, they don’t have cash to pay for it. This is because many of the poor masses don’t have the resources to buy a crate of eggs, which is 30 in the crate.
“People pick five eggs, fry it for immediate consumption, while those who make tea and other light foods on the road, buy like half crates or at times 10 eggs, and these are based on cash transactions,” he stated.
Akpa, however, stated that because of the near absence of cash to do this sort of daily transactions, a lot of poultry farmers had been unable to sell their eggs from the first week of February till date.
“We have over 76 million commercial layers laying eggs on a daily basis. We also have breeders laying eggs on a daily basis. Now, if people have no cash, there’s no way they would buy day-old chicks and restock on their farms. This is because on daily basis you need money to buy feeds, medication and other important things.
“And if you don’t get money, how will you buy all these things to keep these birds? Also, you know that egg is perishable. You can’t keep eggs for a maximum of 14 days, and unfortunately, this is a hot period. So if you are unable to sell these eggs in one week, they’ll go bad.
“This is where the colossal amount of money involved in the unsold eggs and the damaged eggs come from. And if this continues in the next one month or before we get the new government, then every other poultry farmer will close shop,” he declared.
This, according to the PAN DG, was because farmers should not produce and be unable to sell, as he stressed that an interim measure to control and save the industry from collapse should be put in place.
“The mopping up of the eggs through the association for distribution to the most vulnerable old populations as part of the social investment support to Nigerians should be done by the government.
“The government should encourage the armed forces in various peacekeeping operations, the Nigerian prisons, Internally Displaced Persons and places, primary schools under the school feeding programme, among others, to be immediate off-takers of the eggs,” he stated.
Akpa also called for the provision of direct grants and financial support to the industry through the association in special packages to be worked out by the government and the association, as the support and succour to the industry would greatly alleviate the current losses in the sector.