Local poultry farmers say they are seeing no signs of recovery due to the fact that more and more Ghanaians are regaining their appetite for imported chicken despite the bird flu scare.
According to the President of the Ga East Area Poultry Farmers Association Mr. John Torto, while some Ghanaians are gradually regaining their appetite for poultry, they have gone back to imported chicken because they are cheaper and available.
He said this has led to the situation where poultry farmers are unable to sell birds, although the patronage of egg has improved. “We are not stocking, we unable to service our loans and our suppliers are after us,” he said adding, “My heart misses a beat whenever my phone rings.”
Mr. Torto told Public Agenda in an interview that since January he has lost about 150 million cedis in terms of sales because of the bird Flu.
Mr. Torto who owns Maxima farms at Danfa, near Oyarifa in the Greater Accra Region said Ghanaians can rise to the challenge of meeting the nation's poultry needs if the government gives poultry farmers the right supports.
Torto also explained further that the imposition of 20 percent tariffs on chicken during the National Democratic Congress period improved the breeding of broilers in the country.
A further imposition of 20 percent tariff by the New Patriotic Party government was the turning point in the poultry Industry. “Restaurants were buying broilers from us and our businesses were growing until the government changed its mind and removed the tariff.”
Torto said although he has been a poultry farmer for 18 years, he has never seen a copy of the poultry policy of Ghana and its aims and objectives. “It is a pity that in this era of Genetically Modified foods and Avian Flu, Ghanaians are still consuming broilers and layers in boxes from other countries.
Supporting Torto, another member of the Poultry farmers Association of Ghana Freddy Lutterodt said, the situation of poultry farmers is a sad one and called on the government to set up a loan scheme with the rural banks to enable poultry farmers have funds to rebuild their industries.
Lutterodt who owns Lutt Farms at Teiman says he has reduced his poultry stock considerably because his customers have not been patronizing the poultry.
Tweneboa Kodua who owns a Feed mill at Abokobi and a Farm at Oyarifa also said his feed mill has ground to halt. “Workers just laze about and when the month ends like this I am unable to sleep,” he told Public Agenda in an interview.
He said farmers have not been patronisng poultry feed due to the fall in the sale and consumption of poultry. According to Tweneboa Kodua, his over 10,000-bird poultry farm has been reduced to only 4,000 due to the crisis. Birds that were sold in eight weeks are now being sold even at 16 weeks and the extra feeding incurs extra cost,” he says, adding that the only way to revive the poultry industry is to ban the importation of foreign poultry in the country.
Studies show that despite its problems the poultry industry in Ghana is the most developed sub-sector in the livestock sector. Commercial development of poultry began in earnest in the late 1960s. Between that period and 1980, it experienced an unprecedented growth and was well positioned as an import substitution industry.
This led to the establishment of subsidiary industries such as hatcheries, feed mills, veterinary drug companies and abattoirs.
In the 1990s, a total of 10- registered commercial hatcheries with combined capacities of about 11 million day old chicks per annum, 30 registered commercial feed milling companies and two processing plants were established in the country, making the poultry industry totally integrated.
That has changed because of the dumping of foreign poultry products in the country in the name of trade liberalization.
The farmers say the period between 1990 and 2002 witnessed a near collapse of the poultry industry because of both internal and external factors, which were macro-economic in nature.
However, the worse to come had been the Avian Flu, which according to Torto has now succeeded in collapsing the industry.
by Isabella Gyau Orhin