Nigerian poultry farmers have been groaning and crying silently in the past four weeks as a result of drastic drop in sales of eggs usually referred to as Egg Glut. The egg surplus has become almost an annual ritual for more than twenty years now. Eggs accumulate on the farms as chickens continue to eat and lay while middlemen/wholesalers either refuses to pick them up for sale or drastically reduce the quantity they buy.
Unlike before this year egg glut appears to affect every corner of the country. Livestonews spoke to and visited a number of poultry farms across the country some with extremely sad story to tell.
“I have buried over 2,000 trays of eggs, sold more than 4,000 trays on credit at ridiculous price with no assurance of getting paid and I’m currently selling at give away prices on my farm”. That is according to Mr Taiwo Adeoye, a poultry farmer based in Ibadan and the current president of Animal Science Association of Nigeria. He appeared on TVC breakfast show recently to bring attention of the country to the troubles that poultry farmers are currently going through.
Egg glut on a Farm in Southwest Nigeria
The situation is not too different at Cathelea farm in New Karsi, Nasarawa state with about 1,500 trays of eggs unsold every week since the beginning of the glut. Ledun farm in Akure, Ondo State and Progreen farm, Modakeke, Osun State also groans from low sales. All the farmers that were contacted mentioned that this year glut began to appear in the last week of May, meaning that the glut is in the fifth week now, with no apparent signs of easing in sight. From past experiences egg glut usually appears around August to September which coincide with the period when all pre- tertiary schools and occasionally tertiary schools will be on long vacation. However the glut period is not strictly period bound as prevailing situations in different localities across the country usually translate to either surplus or scarcity for this fragile product.
The insurgence in the north east of the country in the last 8 years, which appears to have spread to the north west, has been blamed for the drastic reduction of egg sale in the south. It is argued that transportation of eggs to these crisis regions and also across the borders to Republic of Niger and to Cameroon is too risky. The seasonal appearance of garden eggs and guinea fowl eggs in the market are also seen as threat to chicken egg marketing because these products are consumed as good and cheaper substitute. The period of new yams is however seen as a boost for chicken egg marketing. According to Mrs Ogunleye of Ledun Farm, the cessation of the school feeding programme in Ondo state is a doom for egg business in the state. In the view of Mr Clement of Cathelea farm, the surge of new poultry farms with intimidating capacities, especially up north, could also be fingered in the present glut.
In the meantime, since farmers could not afford to store eggs beyond few days, they have been forced by the glut to adopt detrimental coping strategies such as selling on credit; selling at ridiculous prices; open and direct marketing; and starving of birds to reduce production. Some have even sold their stocks abruptly.
As animal scientists continue to assert that the current total egg production of the country is a far cry from what it actually require for optimum nutrition of its citizens, egg glut continue to appear year after year. What is apparent is that national consumption is far below production level. The reasons for this appears to be multidimensional and so also should be the solution.One of the reasons is the cholesterol question which has since been debunked. In fact egg is reported to contain the most beneficial high density lipoproteins in abundance together with full complement of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and sufficient caloric value. Chicken egg is a living cell which if fertilized could give rise to a fully developed individual chick with no external inputs other than heat and moisture. An egg a day is said would keep the doctor far away.
The glut has a chain effect as feed-millers and veterinary supplies dealer are equally affected. The government together with concerned stakeholders should no longer sit back and watch the poultry farmers cry in silence and fold up into penury. The time to act is now.