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July 13, 2024
Poultry & Livestock Review Africa

Staying Afloat in Poultry Business Amid Economic Challenges

Businesses in Nigeria are presently going through difficult times due to the harsh operating environment. The ravaging economic crisis which spread across sectors is not biased against business size or ownership as being reflected in the unimpressive figures being churned out by small and large-scale businesses as well as reported cases of firms that have been forced out of business.

In fact, Cardinalstone, an investment company, projected that more multinational firms in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sub-sector may exit the country this year.

Nigeria’s $4.2 billion poultry industry is one among sectors mostly hit by volatile market reality, no thanks to the near-scarcity of maize feed and rise in input cost. Like it is with others, present operating cost may no longer be relevant in the wink of an eye.

This obviously manifests in a shred in poultry output, forcing also about 50 per cent poultry operators to close shops in 2023, a sort of moderate figure compared to the whooping 80 per cent farmers who may have wound down in January 2024, going by the projection of Chairman of the Akwa Ibom State Branch of Poultry Association of Nigeria, PAN, Solomon Ekong.

However, only few like the Managing Director of Nyore B Farm Enterprise, Mrs. Blessing Olugbemi is pulling.  Olugbemi’s ruggedness is such worth emulating.

Losing a massive number of birds that swallowed both her capital and profit to conditions as cash crunch, soaring operating costs, domestic factors and climate change, she refused to give in to the temptation of winding down a ten-year old business in 2023.

Her experience in 2023, she said, unknowingly prepared her for tougher times in 2024.

Asked about her coping strategies, the computer science graduate linked it to passion, resilience and continuous learning.

Coincidentally, she asserted that above factors were the scaling code in present day poultry farming.

“This does not have to do with whether you are a new comer or already established in the business”, she insisted.

The small scale entrepreneur disclosed that the same spirit propelled her into farming after she graduated with no job, while her hustle in clothing & accessories did not yield.

“I decided to give farming a trial on the advice of a family friend. Ever since, it has been a journey of mixed experience. This is business, you do not expect it to be all rosy”, she stressed.

Amid uncertainties,  Olugbemi ardently believes in the future of poultry business, not even now that local production  of chicken at 300 Mt and egg at 650 Mt is only  able to meet 30 per cent of demand for chicken eggs and meat,  leaving demand margin wider.

According to Agroberichten Buitenland, egg consumption in Nigeria jumped from 366,000 tons in 2000 to 598,000 tons in 2015 and is projected to reach 947,000 tons by 2030.

Looking ahead, Olugbemi is meticulously playing her game to bridge growing demand gap, which to her may not be unconnected to exorbitant cost of other protein sources like fish and meat.

Not disputing the challenges in the economy, she is confident that operators could roughen it to stay afloat, instead of backing out.

“Why not, if they can strictly abide to the rules of the game, they can stay alive and thrive in the business. However, they must approach the business with an open-mind, they should prepare for the roses and grays”, she said.

In practicing poultry, she maintained that passion, skills and resources- capital and space are sacrosanct.

She enlightened that a new comer in the field must have a business direction too.

“You must decide if you are going into meat or egg production or both. This will be the premise on which you plan.  For instance, if you are going into meat production, it is advisable to start from day old bird, otherwise, the business may not see light”

Continuing, she said, “Knowledge is key, which is why you must be abreast of changing trends in the business.

“For a new comer, you may decide to enroll for a professional training or learn from successful operators you find around. But then while you are established in the business, you cannot afford to depend on your knowledge or doing alone, you must network and belong to association. There you gain new insight and get some of your puzzles solved.

“For women farmers, she recommended Small-Scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON) as a must- belong association, saying that the group not only impact members with new knowledge, but facilitates and mobilises support for members”, she explained.

She recounted her ordeal with rodents that almost sent her packing at a time due to frequent attacks on eggs and baby chicks, noting that a co-member of SWOFON came to her rescue with just a clue.

“She advised me to guard my farm with cats, which I did and that marked the end of rodents’ attack. You can imagine if I had not known her through the platform, I’m afraid I might be out of business today because I’ve tried several options to get rid of the rodent which didn’t work.

“Come to think of it, a lot of poultry farmers have been driven out of business due to losses incurred by rodent attack. For people in this condition, I advise them to position a number of cats in their farm,” she added.

Speaking further on getting it right for meat production, she advised on the need to get broilers’ feeding timetable right to avoid loss.

“First of all, you must get your brooder (heated house for chicks) homely and safe enough to sustain and care for your chicks, otherwise, you may start recording loss from this stage”, she informed.

For impressive and healthy growth, she informed that a broiler (meat productive bird) must be fed up to 4.2kg within their first 42 days.

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