Despite numerous funds and grants to the agricultural sector, poultry farmers have complained about their inability to expand their businesses due to inadequate funding. This, they said, was militating against the performance of the sector.
A poultry farmer in Sango Otta, Ogun State, Mr. Rafiu Shokeye, said most small scale poultry farmers have not been able to expand their farms because of the lack of funds. According to him, “Running poultry is not an easy task. The farmer needs to have enough money to fund the business because it is capital intensive. The birds need to be fed on daily basis in order to have good products and this does not leave out the money spent on buying vaccines to prevent the outbreak of diseases which can be disastrous for the farmer when it happens.”
Mr. Shokeye complained that the amount spent by the farmers on feed keeps rising regularly. “It is either there is an increase in the price of maize or groundnut or other ingredients used in processing the feeds. Most times, the price of buying feed from the mills are so consuming that the farmers wish to get out of the business. Most of the farmers are now finding alternative feeding means for their birds while others are getting out of the business.”
He added, “The lack of loans to survive in the environment is also not encouraging and this has been affecting the production capacity of most farmers because the bulk of the birds consumed in the country are either from big farms or imported. Small scale farmers have not been able to contribute much to bird production because of the lack of access to loan facilities.”
Another poultry farmer, John Olanrewaju, who spoke to NEXT in a telephone conversation said the poultry sector is faced with lots of challenges, which unfortunately is affecting the small scale farmers the most.
He said the poultry sector is underdeveloped and will remain so for a long time if the government does not intervene. He observed that most poultry farmers are yet to recover from the loss recorded during the outbreak of avian flu in 2007, which led to the loss of many birds and eggs.
According to Mr. Olanrewaju, “Most small scale farms cannot access loans from the micro-finance banks because the banks claim that their farming standard does not meet the normal farming standards required by the bank. This has in turn affected the turnout of bird production because the small farms end up not producing enough bird for local consumption. This has also had a negative effect on egg production in the country.”
Access to loans
Mr. Shokeye said if the government is serious about its bid to revive agriculture in the country, it should allocate loans to small scale farmers in livestock farming, especially the poultry sector and not just crop farmers.
“This is the only way we can agree that the government is serious about the development of agriculture and encouraging small scale farmers in the country. Small scale farmers are always at the receiving end of any government policies or loans as if we are not part of the agricultural sector,” he said.
Mr. Olarenwaju also said that the fluctuation in the price of animal feed concentrate and the lack of infrastructural facilities have not made things easy for farmers and feed millers.
“The feed millers now depend on generating sets to produce feed concentrates and this is having effect on not just poultry but other livestock farmers. The country has the capacity to produce enough birds and eggs for both internal and external consumption but the facilities to do so are not there.” He appealed to the government to be serious about livestock farming.