NIGERIA’S poultry farmers have warned that the nation is facing the prospect of starvation come 2021 as a result of the lockdown introduced by the government in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Like most other countries, Nigeria has had to introduce a lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus but unlike many other nations, the local economy does not have the elasticity to cope with the emergency. For starters, Nigeria does not have food stockpiles despite being the world’s sixth largest agricultural producer because as much as a third of her farm produce goes to waste due to poor refrigeration and storage facilities.
To make matters worse, the economies of Nigeria’s urban centres are dominated by artisans and petty traders who earn their living on a daily basis. These self-owned businesses could not survive the two two-week shutdowns introduced by the government, forcing a lifting of the restrictions as food shortages started getting severe.
Although there has been a partial lifting of the lockdown and economic activities have returned to large parts of the country, the Poultry Association of Nigeria has warned that the country may face starvation in 2021. Ezekiel Ibrahim Mam, the association’s president, urged the federal government to wake up to its responsibility to secure farmers by mobilising them to go to their farms and produce food for the country.
He said: “This year 2020, we are at least better off because we have enough food on the ground but in 2021 we are going to face clear starvation because of the lockdown and the restriction of movement of people, since farmers cannot move to their farms. Already, the rainy season has set in so, if the maize producers, soybeans farmers cannot go to their farms that is a threat to the poultry industry.
“This is because 70% of the raw materials for the poultry industry, is soya and maize. We have two issues, which are the lockdown, security and activities of bandits.”
Mr Mam noted that lifting the restrictions on the movement of farmers and mobilising them would forestall the foreseen starvation of the country in 2021. He added that the government needs to wake up to its duties because Nigeria will witness terrible and tough times.