By Stanley Nwanosike
Enugu, Aug. 26, 2020 The Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) has urged the Federal Government to release maize from its strategic grain reserve to checkmate rising cost of poultry feeds production in the country.
The Chairman of PAN in Enugu State, Mr Izuolisa Onu, made the appeal on Wednesday in Enugu at a news briefing by PAN on the recent high cost of maize and multiple taxation for its members in the state.
Onu said that the high cost of poultry feeds occasioned by high cost of maize due to limited quantity had pushed its members to close their poultry farms rendering thousands of youths jobless.
According to him, early in the year, a bag of poultry feed cost N2,000 but today is more than N4,500 coupled with high cost of other inputs and medication needed for the birds.
“The poultry industry depends on maize for the much needed poultry feed of our birds; and maize is about 75 per cent of our poultry feed composition.
“The recent ban on importation of maize has contributed to the scarcity and high cost of maize.
“While we support our colleagues in the maize sector, we believe that the ban is ill-timed and should have been implemented in phases to allow our local production meet up with local demand,” he said.
According to him, the association is appealing to the Federal and state governments to revisit this ban on maize importation and allow for some window of importation to cushion the present scarcity of maize.
“We request that maize be immediately released from the country’s strategic grain reserve to help cushion the rising cost while some importation is allowed.
“Government should pay needed attention to the imminent collapse of this industry and millions of direct and indirect jobs to be lost, as well as millions of Nigerians not meeting their daily protein needs,’’ he said.
The chairman also lamented multiple taxation of their members by suspected agents allegedly working for Enugu East Local Government Area.
“It is painful to note that while poultry farmers were grappling with the negative impact of the lockdown necessitated by the COVID-19, we had individuals in the name of local government storming our farms to harass and demand for several illegal levies and taxes.
“They broke and destroyed the bio-security of our farms, threatened and harassed farm workers and owners and impounded important farm equipment needed for daily operations.
“This has resulted in a number of mortalities in farms and total disruption of our production,’’ he alleged.
Onu, however, appealed to Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to urgently come to the rescue of PAN members in the state especially in Enugu East Local Government Area by putting an immediate stop to this illegal activity.
Highlight of the briefing was a protest march to Enugu State Government House, where PAN members led by their state executive, submitted letters to Gov. Ugwuanyi.