Prices of poultry and fish feed have increased across the country weeks after the Central Bank of Nigeria stopped the issuance of forex for the importation of maize.
Traders and farmers attributed the hike in prices to the scarcity and sudden increase in the cost of the grain.
A market survey by the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) in Abuja and Akwa Ibom showed that a 25kg bag of poultry feed called “Starter” that sold N4000 before now, has since risen to N4200.
The feed meant for older birds, called finisher, now goes for N4000 from the previous price of N3700.
Also, a 15kg bag of Nigerian-made fish feed that sold for N7500 for 2mm before the announcement of the policy, has increased to N8100.
Similarly, the same amount of fish feed for 3mm fish size has now increased from N6300 to N7500, while its 9mm equivalent has increased to N5000 from N3900.
Poultry and fish farming have grown in Nigeria in recent years, helping to increase food supply and generate employment. But harsh economic conditions have kept the cost of business high and profit margins low. Maize is a key ingredient used in production of poultry and fish feeds.
On July 14, the Central Bank announced the ban of maize importation, in an effort to boost local production.
The decision came a day after a PREMIUM TIMES’report showed Nigeria’s persistent importation of large quantities of maize despite calls from farmers that they can meet local demand.
Nigeria, over the last 10 years, has imported some 2,700,000 tons of maize.
In 2019, Nigeria produced 11 million metric tons with a consumption level of about 11.4 million metric tons, according to the data from USDA.
John Eze of John Value Global, a poultry and fish feed dealer in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, confirmed the rise in the prices of these goods while speaking to PTCIJ.
“There is an increase in the prices of these feeds. Currently we are experiencing about a 40 per cent increase in the price of poultry feed and over 20 per cent increase in the price of fish feed due to this policy.
“In terms of availability, the feed becomes scarce because the millers are rationing the goods due to the scarcity of maize for production,” Mr Eze said.
Though Mr Eze acknowledged the policy as a good one that will help to improve and encourage local farmers in the production of maize, he said the government should reconsider the policy temporarily as it has affected poultry farming business negatively.
“It is a good policy from the government as this will encourage local farmers, but the government should grant a temporary waiver to this policy to help stabilize the market while measures are being put in place to boost local production of maize,” Mr Eze added.
Another feed dealer, Linda Obutu of Eljay Blessing farm Limited located in Kubwa, Abuja, further explained the impact of the ban on the feed business. She said the prices of feed have increased thereby causing low turnout in her fish and poultry feed business.
“We are experiencing price hike now, the millers said it is the effect of maize importation ban, the goods I had since last week are still here, farmers are not buying much like before again because of the high prices, one of my customers that always buys feeds for 300 birds has now reduce the quantity of his birds to only 100 birds, some farmers even stop booking for new birds now,” Mrs Obutu said.
“The decision by the government is a good one, but the current insecurity in the country is a major challenge to farmers. Personally, I have a farm at Usman Dam here in Bwari local government area; Farmers are scared of going to the farm because of the insecurity situation. Therefore, the government should tackle these problems now that there is a ban on maize importation so that the country can have enough quantities of maize,” Mrs Obutu added.
Ephraim Luke, another feed dealer that deals only on poultry feed said there is a huge negative impact on the business as a result of the importation ban, but it can help the country’s economy to grow if Nigerian can manage with the development now.
“It has affected my business negatively. Farmers are not buying feed again and goods are not coming again like before from the suppliers because of scarcity of maize. But I will say it is just temporary because this decision will encourage local farmers to produce more and with that, our local production will increase,” Mr Luke said.
According to Ubong Edet, the CEO of Bounty Tryde Farm Enterprise in Abuja, the policy will help local farmers invest more in the production of maize as well as creating jobs in the sector.
“Undoubtedly, the positives of the ban will be reasonable pricing for maize farmers, stimulation for local farmers to invest more in maize production and a potential expansion of this sub-agric sector to provide sustainable employment,” he said.
“I support the recent CBN directive to stop access to forex for the importation of maize to Nigeria. However, if not properly followed through, the measure will be a re-telling of the story of the ban of rice importation with an unimaginable hike in the price of maize in the coming months,” Mr Edet said.
He further urged the government to provide more incentives to farmers and also help in the free flow of the product value chain.
“However, the clamour about the benefits of the maize importation ban will remain imaginary until the government translates its promises to tangible commitment.
“There has to be provision of low interest rate loans to farmers for expansion of investment in maize farming, an expansion of the CBN Anchor Borrowers Program and a swift mechanization of farming in the country. Also, investment by the government in storage, farm produce transportation and processing will enhance a year-round availability of the cereal to consumers,” Mr Edet said.