Now that the yuletide is here, the demand for chicken is expected to skyrocket in the market. Farmers and sellers of chickens are already keeping their fingers crossed to witness what should be their heydays for the year. However, our experience has shown that local producers are often disadvantaged in the market due to perceived differentiation in pricing with foreign-sourced chickens, dumping, and lack of proximity of outlets to consumers.
No doubt, income from poultry production constitutes a significant share of the total household income across all production systems. However, apart from generating cash income for producers, poultry keeping contributes to livelihoods by providing protein and other nourishments to consumers.
Globally, more than 60 billion chickens are killed for consumption every year. Nigeria is the second largest chicken producing country in Africa after South Africa (SAHEL 2015 and FAO 2019). The Nigerian poultry industry comprises about 180 Million chickens which produce more than 450 billion tonnes of meat and 3.8 million eggs per year. In Nigeria, meat is the most consumed poultry product with a greater preference for broiler meats.
The above is espoused by a 2014 study of consumer preference and perception of the different types of chicken meats among 370 respondents in the University of Ibadan by Ogunwole O. A., Omojola O. T., and Adedeji B. S. The study showed that the majority of respondents (62 percent) preferred to take broiler meat due to its tenderness or juiciness, and respondents mostly buy their chickens from meat shops followed by poultry farms as well as open markets and personal farms respectively. However, while all respondents admitted to consuming poultry meat, the majority (51.9 percent) consume it monthly, 28.9 consume it weekly, whereas, 19.2 percent consume it only during the festive periods (e.g Christmas).
Challenges of Local Farmers
One of the greatest challenges (perhaps the strictest one) local poultry farmers often contend with is dumping and over flooding of the local market with foreign processed chickens. Researchers experience that despite the ban on the importation of frozen foods into Nigeria, smugglers still get into the country with smuggled frozen chickens of about 1.5 Million tonnes which poses great health risks on the lives of Nigerians.
In a 2015 study of chicken buying behaviour among Kwara state residents by A.G Adeyonu, E.O Oyawoye E.F. Fabiyi, and A. O. Owolabi, it is revealed that the great health risk of the imported frozen foods is due to additive chemicals to preserve it. Hence, concerns about the carcinogenic harm of foreign processed chickens should enhance the need to promote locally processed ones. Furthermore, locally produced chickens are usually disadvantaged due to perceived differentiation in pricing with foreign-sourced ones. As at the time the study was carried out, one kilogram of smuggled frozen chicken was sold for 680 Naira while the price of one kg of locally processed chicken was sold at 750 Naira. This survey shows that smuggled chicken was cheaper than the locally processed ones, thereby encouraging consumers to forgo locally produced chickens.
Another challenge is that of the proximity of outlets for local chickens to consumers. The aforementioned study shows that locally processed chicken outlets are not strategically located for easy access to consumers. Over 80% of respondents confirmed that Nigerian Processed Chickens were not readily available and that the distance to sales outlets was 3.21 km. However, further analysis shows that while the willingness to purchase Nigerian Processed Chickens decreased with sales outlet distance, it increased largely with education and income.
From the foregoing, it is apparent the willingness of Nigerians, especially the learned and discerning ones to stick to locally produced chickens. However, distance or inaccessibility of the outlets for the locally produced chickens to most consumers as well as porosity in the borders that gives way to smugglers and lack of price regulation have been the major setbacks to the local farmers and producers of birds. Thus the following recommendations are made:
- There is need for a more stringent approach on the part of the Government to regulate the importation of frozen foods into the country.
- Better import substitution strategies that will foster an enabling environment for local producers and processors must be activated.
- Policies that will enhance local buyers’ purchasing power should be pursued in order to encourage their willingness to pay for Nigerian processed chickens.
- Farmers should seek to establish more sales outlets through collaboration with standard supermarkets or stores in urban centers.