By Clifford Okyere
If the wise men who visited baby Jesus in the Manger were four, one person would have presented chicken to the newborn king as a gift on behalf of Ghanaians. For sure, the statistics prove it. Poultry produce is the largest and cheapest protein source for Ghanaians and for the festive season, one cannot wait to have a bite of the crispy fried chicken paired with rice and stew much less the tasty ‘kosua ne mako’(egg and pepper). But, as we seek to satisfy our non-relinquishing cravings for poultry products, what is left with an industry which is on the brink of death?
The poultry farming industry has over the years and still, faced with both external and internal factors which a chuck of it is sponsored by us. Many of these pressing issues before the industry can be solved, but, are seem to be neglected.
Promoting domestic poultry on Ghana’s dinner tables;
In the 2023 fiscal budget plan, the government promised to boost local productivity capacity to which the exportation of poultry from the country is deemed as one sure way to boost local productivity as they strive to reduce Ghana’s dependency on foreign products, but the question that drums home is “will this be possible for the country’s poultry industry?”
The poultry industry, like any other, does have loopholes which have been left unattended to. These pose as huge red flags in the government’s quest to localize importation, especially with poultry. An industry worth a little closer to a billion dollars annually is left to a crippling foot when stroked with Avian influenza disease.
How can this industry be sustained? With a zero poultry import policy, it would be quite a difficult one, because reports indicate that the domestically produced poultry is not able to meet indigenous demands.
Producing chicken; the costs:
There are worries about how feeble our “afie nkokor”, (locally produced chickens) look and under what conditions are these prepared for the table.
Poultry inputs come at a cost. Questions arise at a time when the market seems unstable.
Talk of Chick feed, the prices of a bag of Mazie, Soya bean, wheat or any other supplementary product used in poultry farming has gone over the roof within the space of barely a year. The situation is made complex by the plight of poultry farmers in the country, who find it difficult, they say, to break even.
For consumers, the thighs, wings, etc. are a good supplement for the domestic market.
Rewarding Poultry Farmers:
The 2022 theme for the celebration of Farmers Day is “accelerating agricultural development through value addition”, is an instructive theme that demands that value addition in agriculture especially poultry presents a very good opportunity for additional revenue generation, job creation, and foreign exchange earnings for the country in a whole. It would be sustainable if the government implements policies that would help progress the poultry industry.
A report about Ghana’s poultry and products prepared by Josh Taylor for the United States Department for Agriculture dated January 2022 revealed the exporting countries were The Netherlands, Poland, United States, Belgium and Brazil with higher margins making it impossible for local producers to permeate.
With a few weeks to Christmas, there will be a rush for poultry, and in some instances creating artificial scarcity.
It does not take the expertise of a Rocket Scientist to know that the poultry industry needs solid investment. Professor John Mensah Mawutor said on the GTV Breakfast Show last Monday that in order to have the government sustain its intelligent policies of ensuring more consumption of local products, especially agriculture, there needs to be a huge and feasible investment plan fixed for this sector.
This investment may cut across players in the importation of these poultry products into Ghana.