By Mike Adeyemi
Poultry farming seems no longer sustainable as many businesses are either closing down or folding up in a turn of events that are certain to have a ripple effect on the supply of eggs and poultry meats in Kwara State.
The cost of grains such as maize, soya beans and other essential ingredients used in the compounding of various rations of poultry feeds have drastically increased in recent months, thereby prompting several feed milling companies to increase the cost prices of their commercial finished feeds.
This action has largely contributed to huge losses which are recently being recorded among Kwara farmers, as many of them struggle to get funds to purchase quality commercial feeds produced by these companies.
Similarly, it has been a nightmare for farmers who mill the finished feeds used on their farm to continue this practice due to the high cost and scarcity of necessary raw materials.
While requesting for the opinions of some Kwarans who are poultry farmers, and they had a lot to say on the regular hike in the price of the poultry commercial finished feeds.
From my findings, many poultry Kwara farmers have developed a “coping mechanism” to this dramatic situation in a bid not to run out of business, and their responses can be simply summarized as a reasonable reduction in farm inputs and reduction in the quantity of feed consumed by the poultry birds (mostly layers, broilers, turkeys).
Also, in a reactionary approach to the increase in prices of commercial finished feeds, Kwara poultry farmers are no longer opting for the best brand of commercial finished feeds as they seek to cut down on the daily cost of production on their farm.
Sadly, the most affordable of all the commercial finished feeds are not meeting customers’ expectation as regards obtainable results on the farm when fed to the poultry birds.
Several poultry farmers also had a lot to say concerning the negative impacts that this hike in price of commercial finished feeds has caused them, such as the sights of frustrations worn on their faces. As a result of the farmers cutting down on the quantity of daily feed consumption, the production of eggs as seen with layers has reduced, and it now also takes a longer period of time for commercial broilers or turkeys to attain market body weight.
Furthermore, there has been an increase in the cost of farm production and operations, as the daily feeding cost amounts to 70% of the total poultry farm inputs. Possible chances of farm expansion appear slim while maintenance of the current farm size is daily becoming difficult due to regular reductions in profit margins caused by regular increase in feed prices.
Replacement of old birds has also proven difficult, as increase in prices of commercial poultry feeds have caused a ripple effect on the prices of day-old chicks sourced from hatcheries across the nation.
Several kwara farmers are becoming financially stranded, and have begun to either lay off their farm attendants or reduce the salaries, so as to keep up with the demands of regular increase in feed prices.
The regular increase in feed prices is ultimately resulting in the hike in price of poultry products (such as eggs, frozen and live chickens, etc.) and consumers are either getting reluctant to buy such products at a ridiculously high price, or are forced to reduce the quantity of these products that they buy.
Feed millers are advised to certify that the ingredients purchased from sellers are of standard quality as this would insure the production of good quality finished feeds which will yield a positive effect on the daily performance and production of the poultry birds.
Solutions offered by the poultry farmers include regulation in the price of finished feeds by the government through provision of subsidies to feed milling companies, thereby mitigating against inflation of feed prices.
The government should also intervene by making maize available to feed millers through the release of grains from the national food reserve, in order to cut down on the market price of maize.
Furthermore, the Kwara state government should lend their support through the provision of incentives to crop farmers who are the suppliers of the necessary ingredients (such as maize, soya beans, wheat) used for feed production, as well as the lifting of the national embargo placed on maize importation in order to allow unlimited access by feed millers to necessary ingredients which are either scarcely available or totally unavailable within the country so that there will be sufficient availability of commercial finished feeds at an affordable price throughout the country.
As for the kwara farmers populace, more needs to done about increasing the cultivation of essential crops on the arable lands available across the state in order to increase our state food capacity for self-sufficiency.
Also, there should be more efforts put towards avoiding food wastage and reservation of excess farm produces (such as maize, soya beans) in large storage barns across Kwara, in anticipation for future times of scarcity.
By Mike Adeyemi