The Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) says Nigeria is losing about 2.75 billion dollars (N540.38 billion equivalent) through smuggling of processed poultry products annually.
Dr Ayoola Oduntan, the National President of the association, said this in an interview with newsmen on the sideline of the 2015 Poultry Summit held in Lagos.
He explained that Nigeria had low per capital consumption of chickens and eggs, with a daily consumption of 8.8 kilogrammes of chickens per person.
“On the side of consumption, Nigeria has a very low per capital consumption of chickens and eggs.
“Our total consumption is about 8.8 kilogramme of chickens per person.
“But six kilogrammes out of this eight is from imported smuggled chicken.
“If we can reduce that by 50 per cent, we will generate millions of new jobs, we will save at least 1.5 billion dollars, because we estimate that the total amount used to bring smuggled chickens into this country is 2.75 billion dollars.
“All these can be reversed if our government is committed, which I believe they are to turn things around, we will achieve it.”
According to Oduntan, the poultry industry is in a vantage position to generate employment, create wealth and contribute to the economic development of the country.
“We believe that the in-coming government is going to listen and be committed to agriculture, and together we can form a partnership that will be of immense benefit to all Nigerians.
“We are the single most organised private sector organisation in agriculture.
“If you consider the fact that poultry constitute 25 per cent of agricultural GDP; as producer of animal protein, we do not only employ poultry farmers, we also have farmers of maize, farmers of soya beans, farmers of groundnuts.
“All of them are members of our association and they contribute to the eventual product which is animal protein.
“I give you example, we consume about two million tonnes of maize, and we need 500,000 new farmers to produce that.
“If we double our production, from the encouragement we are expecting from the in-coming government, we can immediately add another 500,000 maize farmers.”
This, he said, was besides other crops like soya, groundnut, palm kernel and rice, among others, being used for the formulation poultry feeds.
“So, I think poultry is very strategic to the growth of Nigeria and every other country.
“At the end of the day, like is done in every country where agriculture is taken seriously, the government must give farming zero digit interest rate.
“I have it on good authority that in Brazil, farmers are given government subsidised loans as low as three per cent.”
According to him, we need this kind of assistance to turn around our agriculture.