The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) recently entered into collaboration with the Nigeria Customs Service to enforce the ban on smuggled poultry products.
The development which aims at safeguarding the health of the citizenry and save local poultry industry from total collapse is already yielding result.
LEO ALIGWO, DEPUTY NEWS EDITOR, reports
Despite the ban on frozen poultry products, particularly turkeys, chickens, fish and other food stuff by the Federal Government, smuggling still thrives at the border between Nigeria and Benin Republic.
The banned products apparently flood the nation’s market daily, courtesy of porous borders which have continued to save as soft landing for the smugglers who often escape the preying eye of security operatives.
Findings by Daily Champion revealed that Nigeria could only produced 15 per cent of her local need of poultry products. Poultry demand in the country is currently pegged at over three metric tons annually. This is a far cry from the domestic demand.
Sadly enough, Nigeria is losing a whopping N40 billion annually due to the importation of banned poultry meat into the country. Worse still, most of the poultry meats are not well preserved.
The President, Association of Poultry Producers of Nigeria, Ayoola Oduntan, had at a parley with the media in Lagos, fingered the activities of middle men as being responsible for the continued smuggling of the banned poultry products, described as health hazard, despite the government’s restriction on them.
Odutan further warned that large amount of illegal imports was pushing poultry farmers out of business
According to the National Agency for Food and Drug and Administrative Control (NAFDAC), the imported smuggled poultry products are treated with dangerous chemicals such as formalin and nitrate which causes cancer, asthma and thyphoid.
Without mincing words, the ugly development is of great concern to both the government and public at large.
NAFDAC had in a bid to enforce the ban entered into collaboration with Nigeria Customs Service. At the last count, over 10,000 cartons of smuggled banned poultry products worth millions of naira have been impounded by the Western Command of the Nigeria Customs Service since the middle of this year when the ongoing collaboration between Customs and NAFDAC became effective.
The seizures which were made at the Seme border and Minna, Niger State, remains among the major legacy of the immediate past Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs,, Abdullahi Dikko.
NAFDAC’s Director General, Dr. Paul Orhii, had in response to question from news men made it clear that the agency had more than ever before turned its search light on the quality of meat consumed in Nigeria, particularly poultry products.
Dr. Orhii argued that the processing of local poultry products is easier in contrast to imported ones, complaining that the feeds are the source of contaminants.
Indeed, the government decision was aimed at encouraging local production and protection of the lives of consumers of poultry products in the country,
However, the economic and health implications of the smuggled banned poultry products have continued to agitate the minds of the public. This is even as the cost of local produced chicken has risen beyond the reach of common man.
For example, domestic dressed chicken in the market currently cost between N1000 and N3000, depending on the weight.
In addition, fish and animal skin popularly known as kpomo in local parlance are not cheap either. Apparently, the masses, especially children are at the risk of being exposed to malnutrition and kwashiorkor, unless urgent step are initiated to address the perennial problem of poor production of local poultry products nationwide.
Experts were of the opinion that the sustained popularity that poultry products have enjoyed in Nigeria in recent times was due to the preponderance of fast-food restaurants that use chicken meat in the manufacture of different meat products such as chicken burgers, sausages and pies.
The marketing of these products in big cities, especially during festive periods is a subject of concern to large scale local poultry producers who experience narrow profit margin in return.
In poultry production system, there is the need to satisfy the growing demand of consumers for quality and safe processed poultry products. Consequently, a comparison of quality characteristics of imported/smuggled and locally produced
Meat quality traits such as proximate composition, storage stability, shear force, water holding capacity, cooking loss, sensory qualities and processing yield will be determined in both imported and locally produced poultry meat samples.
Research conducted by some experts from the University of Ibadan, found large and variable differentials in retail product prices between Gambia and Senegal, Benin and Nigeria, thus confirming the incentive to smuggle.
This was attributed to differences in national trade and taxation policies which are widely recognized as factors affecting the efficiency and probity of trade facilitation such as part and customs operation as well as the extent of border of enforcement.
Also, large differences in the rate of production among countries provide an impetus for smuggling, which is facilitated by the weak enforcement abilities of
African governments, trading traditions as well as cultural and ethnic connections
among the people.
For example, In Gambia, exports are the dominant activity, whereas in Benin, people engage in informal trade activities such as smuggling of imports from other countries; exports and imports of locally produced products within the region, and unofficial re-export of legally imported products.
Nigeria is bound by Benin Republic in the south, which provides a large market
for bulk food items of which poultry meat such as turkey and chicken are included.
Poultry products are brought into Benin by large importers, in some cases operating in the formal sector, and are then smuggled across the border through various mechanisms. Local poultry meat producers incur more expenses in raising their birds as compared to those smuggling the products into the country.
An estimated 90 per cent of the poultry products from European Union (EU) and Brazil exported to Nigeria through Benin Republic, with over 14 million direct jobs expected to be jeopardized by the year 2020 unless the problem is urgently addressed.
Prior to the enforcement of the ban on smuggled poultry meat, Brazilian chicken was reportedly found in a super market in Victoria Island, Lagos. The evelopment was viewed as a common practice amongst supermarkets and cold rooms within the nation. It is understood that smuggled chicken is five times the local production at 1.5 million tons valued at about N900billion annually.
.The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), in its analysis, over years, observed that as western markets shrink, smugglers in Brazil and the EU have set their sights on Africa as the new frontier, smuggling products through Benin Republic into Nigeria.
Using South Africa Case Study, FAO noted that the country’s poultry sector has declined just as imports have increased.
While production has doubled since 1999, imports have grown five times, with most of this growth occurring since 2010.
In its words, “Brazil is the main exporter of chicken into S.A. In 2011, 63per cent of all poultry imports were Brazilian. The country had been accused of dumping and ‘round tripping’ due to shrinking markets in traditional import markets. The resulting price pressure is reducing business margins and threatening jobs
The International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa had in an effort to check the problem made a Provisional decision to increase anti-dumping duties on two categories of poultry from Brazil. It subsequently placed an anti-dumping duty of 62.93 per cent on whole chickens and 46.59 per cent on boneless cuts from Brazil. It was however lifted in 2012 following the intervention of the world Trade Organization (WTO).
The experts were strongly of the opinion that smuggling of poultry products into Nigeria could not only be controlled by the government, but create one million new jobs in maize and soya production, processing, ancillary raw materials, products and services with huge savings in foreign exchange.
Recent decision by the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, restricting the allocation of Forex to 41 items including rice and other products, locally produced in the country is a proof that the ongoing enforcement of the ban on smuggled poultry products would do the nation better than harm.
Above all, enforcement of total restriction in importation of killer poultry meat and other related products would save Nigeria’s healthier population from consuming wholesome food.
Other benefits include reduction in typhoid and food poising from bacterial contamination and cancer from chemical preservatives.
Impediments in local poultry production
The current low production of poultry meat for domestic consumption could be boosted, even for export if government subsidizes agricultural lending amidst provision of critical infrastructure such as power supply, and abolition of multiple- taxation that further squeezes tight margin.
Although, poultry farmers should be encouraged to invest massively in infrastructure, to minimize the identified impediments, cost of electricity in Nigeria is high when compared to the western nations, especially the United States of America (USA), Mexico, and Brazil.
It is crystal clear that aside these impediments, high cost of capital prices producers out of the market. Also unenlightened consumers preference cheap imported poultry meat, inadequate processing plants are major constraints; followed by inadequate inputs and support services and high production costs. Pest and diseases are considered the least perceived limiting factors in local meat production.
Efforts to address these obstacles could enhance the performance of local poultry business in the country.
The Federal Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development should launch a massive campaign to educate Nigerians on the negative health, economic and socio political impacts of illegal frozen chicken and turkey.
It should also collaborate with Federal Ministry of Health to discourage the consumption of imported frozen chicken and turkey. This would save Nigeria from being used as a dumping ground for dangerous frozen smuggled poultry products and save the local industry from going into extinction.