Mr. Benjamin Owiredu, an agricultural expert, has stated that government can easily work towards ending the importation of poultry products. The year 2017 saw Ghana importing about 135,000 metric tonnes of poultry products from the European zone alone. The volume of imports reflected 76% of volumes of import in 2016.
Poultry meat imports to Ghana in 2017 accounted for nearly 90 per cent of consumption while the domestic production of all types including commercial and non-commercial or backyard poultry production provided only about 10 per cent.
Speaking to Ghana Talks Business, Mr. Owiredu outlined a few easy strategies which if employed, may end importation of poultry. One reason that makes import of poultry products necessary is the inability of the local production to meet the market demand. Additionally, the imported products are cheaper. Mr. Owiredu intimated that while a typical 1kg local broiler may sell for Ghs12-15, the imported breed may sell between Ghs8-Gh10.
Although The Ghana National Association of Poultry Farmers (GNAPF) appreciates the steps by government to cut imports and protect the local industry, they are yet to realise the tangible benefits. According to the association, local poultry farmers still incur losses as consumers choose cheap frozen chicken dumped on the market over the broilers produced in Ghana.
According to Mr. Owiredu, who is also the Managing Consultant of Akro Farms, the major factors impeding farmers are cost of feed, management and the operational strategy. ‘Cost of feed is anything between 75 – 85 per cent of the farmer’s revenue, and often times farmers are not aware’, he said. In terms of reducing cost of feed, he suggested that government could set a target for maize production within the ‘Planting for Food & Jobs’ programs.
Additionally, government could support farmers with input, equipment and storage. Since maize forms a major part of a staple food, such initiative would also benefit other sectors and not only poultry. Consequently, the country can increase the production and storage of maize. This would help to evade the skyrocket price of maize during the off-harvest season. Off-harvest price could be as high as 100 per cent where 50kg of maize could sell at Ghs130-150 from Ghs40-50.
On managing the farm, the consultant advised that owners of farms, especially larger outlets to set full corporate governance and management structure to help them run the business professionally.
Commenting on the operational strategy, he strongly recommended the use of technology to run the business. In a similar situation where he manages about 40,000 layers, he is able to achieve about 60 per cent feed-to-revenue ratio which is much lower than the average 80 per cent.
Mr. Owiredu is very confident that Ghana can end importation of poultry if it looks at these seriously. He posits that the poultry business is a very lucrative area with a huge market and people should not be afraid to enter. He is currently meeting less than 10 per cent of his demand. ‘If one or two poultry farms, the size and potential of Akro Farms are present in each region, they can meet the market demand and importation of poultry can end’ he said. The business is profitable with technology whether fully-automated or partial, farmers would see some efficiency which will translate to profit. Market would even grow further with the increasing numbers of hotels and restaurants.
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