The Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) says farmers across the country have lost between 35 and 40 per cent of their resources due to restriction of movement as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Ezekiel Ibrahim, the President of the association, disclosed this in a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abuja.
Ibrahim was speaking against the backdrop of the impact of the pandemic on agriculture.
The president attributed the loss to logistic and distribution challenges as a result of the lack of synergy between the federal and state governments.
He decried the fact that security operatives at the state level had continued to hinder farmers from conveying feeds and day-old chicks to their respective destinations.
According to him, this is even when the Federal Government has exempted poultry farmers from the restriction of movement.
The president noted that there was more than enough food in the country at the moment to cater for the needs of the populace.
He, however, emphasised that due to the lockdown, farmers were unable to move their produce to the nooks and crannies of the country where they were most needed.
Ibrahim appealed to the government to give soft loans to farmers to enable them to continue to be in production.
He said that the loss incurred by many farmers was as a result of the closure of markets and restrictions of accessing the markets.
“The first thing we discovered since the outbreak of the COVID-19 in the country is not only the issue of production, but we have problems with distribution and logistics.
“Not that we do not have enough food in the country but this food cannot reach the nooks and crannies of the society and that is a great shortcoming on the system and our government.
“A lot of people are dying not as a result of coronavirus but due to lack of food.
“This is because in any situation, even in a war situation, food is number one.
“Now in this situation, most of our farmers have lost between 35 per cent to 40 per cent of their resources because sometimes you cannot sell but they keep producing.
“Like hatcheries, day-old-chicks when you hatch you cannot deliver them to farms. Eggs are supposed to be the number one thing as a palliative, in fact, the demand for the egg is supposed to have risen drastically due to its nutritional content but the reverse is the case.
“Anything that affects poultry affects other sectors of agriculture. If you cannot sell a day old chicks, how can you afford to buy poultry feeds? If you cannot sell poultry feed, how will you be able to buy soybeans and corn? so these are the challenges” he noted.
The president said that the COVID-19 had revealed the weaknesses of the government.
According to him, it has put the nation on a scale to know where it stands.
”There is a need for us to domesticate our economy.
“What l mean is that we have sufficient food in this country, as much as possible we should not import any food and since we are not importing, our demand for forex is going to be small.
“Therefore, the government should make sure that we have high liquidity, let people have money in their hands to buy whatever they want.
“There should not be laid off of workers from any sector, rather the government can print more currency so that people will have the cash to buy the local food.
“If the farmer now has good returns from his production, it will influence poultry production and the economy can expand.
“Therefore if we want to move forward when you secure the people, give them electricity so that they can preserve their food and educate them to know the basic requirement for survival.
“If you give everybody opportunity to achieve their potential, they will all contribute maximally to the development of our economy,” he said.