PAN, AFAN list ways to end food smuggling, import

Competitive food production, involvement of youths in agriculture, introduction of technologies and mobilisation of resources to the agro-allied industry have been suggested as means of ending high food import bills and smuggling.

Presidents of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Ezekiel Ibrahim Mam and the All Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Mr Kabir Ibrahim, said these in their goodwill messages to Nigerians on the 58th independence anniversary.

“Our main focus now is to be self-sufficient in poultry production and to be competitive. We are working with soy beans and maize producers’ associations because you cannot talk of self-sufficiency in poultry without the input supplies,” PAN boss said.He advised that Nigerians should believe in their ability as a people, saying, “We have the capacity and the capability. There is no doubt about that. The human resources are there and material resources are there.”

He claimed that no part of the country is safe for now, urging the government to work meticulously to restore and maintain security of life and property. Mam also expressed the optimism that if Nigeria produces food competitively, smuggled chicken or foods into the country would become history.

AFAN President Ibrahim said food smuggling should be curbed by deploying honest custom officials through a special anti-smuggling unit to man the borders using sophisticated resources, including surveillance helicopters and patrol vehicles.

To reduce food import bills, he suggested that farmers should be empowered in terms of supply of improved subsidised inputs and marketing information.He, however, claimed that rice and sugar import bills had been on the decrease as a result of the efforts of the current administration, urging the government to do more.

Similarly, Mam advised the youth to go into chicken production since most of them are interested in investments that would bring returns as quickly as possible. “In chicken production, you have your returns and capital in seven weeks. So, why are youths not involved in poultry (chicken) production?

Confirming the rapid speed of returns, the General Manager of CHI Farms, Dr Tunji Olaitan, said broilers, if well fed in good conditions, are processed into chicken between six and eight weeks from the day-old chicks. Hence, chicken production is one of the fastest capital-recouping agribusinesses. The PAN boss suggested that Nigeria should help its neighbours by producing food in abundance and competitively so that developed economies would not use them as dumping grounds. He argued that dumping of imported foods on those countries would stop if there is no existing market in Nigeria.

Most of these smuggled foods are not produced in Benin Republic or Ghana, but from outside Africa. Why not encourage our neighbours to also start agricultural development for food security? Most of our neighbours depend on Nigeria to sell the imported goods. We have the market. We should help them to help ourselves.“If we produce competitively, they will have no place to sell, and they will be forced to go into production,” he submitted.

Oyo State chairman of AFAN, Mr Olumide Ayinla, said empowering farmers with resources and curbing cattle herders’ invasions of farmland would reduce food importation and smuggling.He specifically appealed to the state government in particular, and the Federal Government to assist farmers in the state in bush clearing. Bulldozers and other earth-moving equipment would be needed to clear forests for food production expansion, he pleaded.

Source: The Guardian

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