The average price of poultry feed in Nigeria rose at least 168 per cent in the last three years, a huge surge that underlines the scale of Nigeria’s food inflation in the last few years.
On average, a 25 kilogramme of poultry feed, made mainly from maize, soybean, wheat, and millet, rose from N3600 in 2019 to between N8500 and N10,000 in July 2022, according to market surveys by the Centre for Journalism and Innovation Development (CJID).
The cost is felt daily in homes as families pay more for chicken and eggs. A broiler sells for between N5500 and N7000 now as against N1500 and N2500 in 2018, while a crate of eggs rose from N800 to N1800.
Food prices in Nigeria accelerated 20.6 per cent in June over the previous year, the fastest pace in 11 months, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Headline inflation shot to 18.60 per cent, a five-year high.
Prices of goods and services have rocketed in Nigeria stoked by several factors. Inflation worsened in 2019 after the government closed the borders to check smuggling and boost rice production and other essential food production. But low domestic production slowed supplies amid huge demand, driving prices. The pandemic lockdowns, shortage of foreign currency, insecurity, high fuel prices, and lately, Russia’s war in Ukraine complicated the problem.
Nigeria’s poultry industry, worth $4.2 billion according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation, is a major protein source for over 200 million people. But the sector, which contributes nine to 10 per cent to the GDP, has struggled in the last three years and many operators have abandoned their businesses due to high costs. Farmers lament high feed costs and traders complain about the costs of the constantly rising ingredients.
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“Poultry feed has tripled since I started the business in 2019, especially since security issues have challenged farmers from producing corn which is a major component of poultry feed,” said Juliet Ebere, poultry farmer in Abuja.
Farmers say they require approximately a kilogramme of starter feed to feed one broiler from week one to three. They need about 3kg of starter feeds for another three weeks, and between week seven and eight, a broiler requires 2.5kg of finisher feed. This totals to 650kg or 26 bags of feed for 100 broilers — N247,000. It would have been N93,600 just four years ago.
Ephraim Christopher, a poultry feed seller in Abuja, said a 25kg bag of feed goes for between N8500, N9500 and N10, 000 depending on the brand.
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“The situation has really affected me; many farmers have withdrawn from the business due to the high cost of feed. Initially I used to sell about 100 or more bags of feed in a day, but now, I am struggling to sell even 30 bags a day,” Mr Christopher said.
Mr Christopher said suppliers attribute price hikes to high cost of raw materials, transportation, insecurity that has kept farmers from their fields and scarcity of dollars needed for importation of maize — since Nigeria does not produce enough.
Anny Udo, a poultry farmer in Uyo, said the situation is not encouraging her to continue in the business even after reducing the size of her poultry farm.
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“The increase in the price of poultry feed is very discouraging for me. I used to buy feed at 3600 per 25kg bag, but now it is N9000 and more depending on the brand. Initially I used to have about 500 birds in my farm, but now due to the high price of feed, I have reduced it to 200 birds and I am even hoping to stop the farming once I am able to sell off what I have now, maybe I will be farming it seasonally according to festivities,” Mrs Udo said.
Nigeria continues to struggle with insufficient amounts of grains and relies on imports for maize and wheat to meet local needs. The ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis has made things worse as the two countries are the world’s biggest wheat and other grains suppliers.
According to data from the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA), Nigeria’s maize production in 2021 grew from 12.4 million metric tons in 2020 to 12.7 million tons. Yet, the country still lags as the country imported 500,000 metric tons of maize between two years.
Sam Amadi, a governance and development analyst, said the situation will have huge implications on the country’s economy.
“There is a serious food crisis brewing in Nigeria and the political class is not paying attention. The economic implications of the rise in food prices, especially the rise in the prices of feed will include; increase in food inflation, increase in poverty rate and starvation on two sides,” he said.