Poultry farmers in the Bono Region say Ghana’s local industry is in the position to meet demand locally and for export if government provides the right support.
The Bono Region has over 3,000 poultry farmers who produce about 50 percent of the country’s local poultry products. Ghana still spends millions of dollars on frozen chicken import; a situation many believe could collapse the local poultry sector.
Over the past decade, government has initiated at least five separate strategic policies and programmes targeted at building the capacities of local poultry farmers to meet the country’s increasing demand for poultry products.
They include the Cockerel Project (2009), SADA Guinea Fowl Production Project (2013), Broiler Revitalization Project (2015), CSIR-ARI ARIBRO Project (2015) and the Livestock Policy and Strategy Document (2016).
The Broiler Revitalization Programme for instance, was introduced with the intention of reducing poultry imports by 40 per cent.
But these interventions over the years have not achieved much. The country’s frozen chicken imports jumped from 13,000 metric tons in 2000 to over 155,000 metric tons in 2011 costing $169 million.
In 2017, a total of over 135,000Metric tonnes, that’s about 112 million birds of frozen chicken, was imported from the European Union. In 2018, 374 million dollars was spent on poultry imports.
The Bono Region has over 3,000 poultry farmers who produce about 50 percent of the country’s local poultry products.
According to the farmers, they are capable of meeting the country’s poultry demand if they receive the right support from government.
Owner of Jamboree Farms, located at Watchman in the Sunyani Municipality; who is also the Vice President of the Sunyani Poultry Farmers Association, Johnson Yeboah, tells Citi Business News if poultry farmers receive the needed support; they would be able to meet poultry demand which would reduce the importation of frozen chicken drastically.
“We have been calling on the government for quite a long time because we believe that Ghanaian poultry farmers are capable of producing enough to take care of people in this country. It is only that we have challenges in terms of cost of production. It has been our prayer, that going forward government of the day may engage poultry framers so that we can have a proper plan as to how best we can produce enough here so that it will not be a challenge when maybe government starts to impose the ban on importation of foreign chicken”.
Just like others in food and cash crop farming, poultry farmers say they also struggle to access credit at affordable interest rates to boost their operations.
“Our main concern is the cost of borrowing, doing business in this country has been so expensive such that after production you have to ensure that you put so much on the item before you can break even.”
“The difference between the pricing of an item from those outside is that they are getting lower interest rates. Imagine someone getting interest rate of 2 percent and you are here borrowing around 35 and 36 percent, so the two of you will produce and in the end how do you think the pricing of the items can match up? It is impossible. It is not about talking too much, doing business calls for capital, so the government must ensure that poultry farmers are well taken care of” he noted.
Johnson Yeboah commended Citi FM’s Operation Feed Yourself project which is seeking to whip up interest in agriculture and agribusiness.