By G9ija

The Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) has restated its support for the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which recently granted import waivers to some companies to import 262,000 metric tonnes of maize.

The association noted that the action would prevent an imminent food crisis.

Following the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on many sectors, Nigerian poultry farmers had agonised over the shortfall in maize and other feeds.

Four companies – Premier Feeds Mills, Wacot, Chi Farms and Crown Flour – were allowed to complement the demand for maize in the poultry industry through importation.

Confirming the arrival of the 262,000 metric tonnes of maize, PAN President Ezekiel Ibrahim said the CBN’s action was meant to bridge the supply gap and that the association considered it the right thing to do in the circumstance.

He said: “As a necessary evil, the CBN approved import licences to some members of our association so that the industry would not be allowed to close down. The gesture has greatly helped the poultry industry to continue with production before the harvest season, which will be around November 2020.

“Import waivers are normally granted as the last resort and out of necessity. It is not the issue of choice but the opportunity cost.”

The Ogun State PAN Chairperson, Mrs. Blessing Alawode, noted that the quantity of maize imported was not enough to meet the requirement of the nation’s poultry industry for one month.

She added: “The 262,000 metric tonnes of maize is to help us survive for a while. It is not even enough for a month. This is just to alleviate the crisis. I don’t think this will affect us negatively. Many farms have closed down because of the crisis we have faced lately.”

Besides the sub-sectors challenges, the effects of flood and farmer-herder crisis in several parts of the country also made it imperative for the association’s members to import the feeds, according to the industry players.

A former Vice Chairman of the association, Chief Folorunso Ogunnaike, said the food crisis in the country might have been worsened if the maize import licence was not granted.

“Herders are causing problems for us, making it difficult for farmers to produce more than enough. Licence has never been given to all, but the effects of the importation by the four companies will be felt by others in the industry.”