AfCFTA: How ready is Nigeria’s poultry industry?

President Muhammadu Buhari after several months of delay appended his
signed on the African Continents Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) but the
question remains whether the Nigerian poultry industry is prepared to
take advantage of the agreement, JOHN OBA asks.

The agreement
The African Continents Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) an initiative of
the African Union (AU) meant to create a single continental market for
goods and services, with free movement of businesses and investments,
and thus pave the way for the establishment of a Customs Union. It is
also expected to intra-African trade through better harmonisation and
coordination of trade liberalisation and facilitation and instruments
across the regional economic Communities (RECs) and across Africa in
general. The AfCFTA is also expected to enhance competitiveness at the
industry and enterprise level through exploitation of opportunities
for scale production, continental market access and better
reallocation of resources. The agreement will bring together all 55
member states of the African Union covering a market of more than 1.2
billion people, including a growing middle class, and a combined gross
domestic product (GDP) of more than $3.4 trillion. In terms of numbers
of participating countries, the AfCFTA will be the world’s largest
free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization.
Estimates from the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) suggest that
the AfCFTA has the potential both to boost intra-African trade by 52.3
per cent by eliminating import duties, and to double this trade if
non-tariff barriers are also reduced. Across the continent, countries
are already jostling on how to derive maximum benefit from the
agreement while country like Nigeria that has over the years suffered
from the negative effects of smuggling from neighbouring countries
that have no factories but are major corridors where foreign good are
dumped delayed to sign in order to consult widely before it finally

Problem of smuggling
One of the worst hit sectors in the country that has consistently
grappled with the problem of smuggling is the poultry subsector. As at
2017 statistics has it that 1.3 tonnes of poultry meat is smuggled
into Nigeria annually. At a time, it was estimated that Nigeria spends
about N600 billion yearly on smuggled frozen foods with grave danger
to consumers, handlers and the environment. On several occasion
Nigerian Customs Service official can be seen destroying hundreds of
tons of smuggled poultry products worth hundreds of millions, yet the
perpetrators of this act persisted until recently when the Custom
management efforts has led to reduction in smuggling. Speaking at a
press conference after the association’s National Executive Committee
(NEC) meeting in Abuja, the National President, Poultry Association of
Nigeria (PAN) Elder Ezekiel Ibrahim, appreciated the efforts of the
Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in curtailing the activities of
smugglers of frozen poultry products urging the Service to intensify
the anti-smuggling activities across the country’s borders.
“PAN urges the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to stop the ambiguity in
the classification of Hs Codes for all imported poultry production raw
materials and equipment,” he said.
Commending Customs effort, PAN Director General, Dr. Onalo Akpa, said
the agency’s efforts has led to increase in capacity utilisation of
most broiler producers in Nigeria in the last few months.
“They have done so much the capacity utilisation of most of the
broiler meat capacity in the last five months has increased to 60% and
we know that by the time Custom come out to clamp down completely on
smugglers activities, we will be able to general more jobs. So we
implore the Nigeria Custom Service to put in more efforts and we are
ready to give the intelligence report on some of those involve in this
smuggling activities.
“We are already having foreign direct investment in the sector and
that has increased recently, but now what we want the government to do
is to build the capacity internally displaced people to be able to
take eggs and also implore the states participating in the school
feeding programme to add eggs as compulsory in the meals. If this is
done, the capacity of poultry production will increase more and the
opportunities will increase for every other person. So we want to be
involve in various policies of the government as it concerns the

AfCFTA and Nigeria poultry industry
With the signing of AfCFTA by President Muhammadu Buhari there are
fears that it give smugglers of poultry products the leverage to
legalise their activities to the detriment of the sector. But the
National President, Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) insists the
agreement would not affect the sector negatively. Ezekiel said the
sector is ready to take advantage of the agreement noting that there
is still much work to be done to ensure that the agreement is not
skewed against Nigeria.
“We want to appreciate the President, because it took him about two
years to sign, it was because of the input that we gave him, and the
concerns raised, he delayed and consulted widely, but Nigeria will not
be affected negatively.”
Akpa explained that the sector will work on empowering Nigerians in
the sector to produce more and take advantage of the agreement.
“We have done much, the poultry sector has become the most capitalise
sector in the agriculture sector. We are in a position today where can
say we are self sufficient in production of poultry products, just
give us little support we will fill the market with our products.
“Though there are some challenges, it is because of this that the NEC
of the association met yesterday to discuss and we are working to
gather now to ensure that we did not only meet Nigeria demand but that
we also export to other countries in West Africa.”
He said the country has been self sufficient in egg production in the
last l5 years. According to him, in the last five years annual egg
production capacity increased tremendously to about 20 billion eggs
annually, making it the highest egg producing nation in the continent.
“We are self sufficient in egg production and we are already to
produce beyond our national demand and export to other Africa
He said the association call on the government to include egg per day
in the meals of the student, prison, soldiers and internally displaced
person is to boost egg production.
Explaining further, Akpa said “Part of President Buhari’s delay in
signing the agreement was because of the opposition those of us in the
industry and Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) raised and
over these period the has been a lot of engagements by the president
with various stakeholders, and some of the clauses that were
completely antagonistic were removed as part of the stakeholders
engagement, and part of our demand now is that we want to get from the
government the final copy of the agreement signed by the president.
“Part of what is being discussed at this moment that has not be
rectified is the issue of source of origin. Because poultry products
can be brought from Europe to Benin Republic or to Niger like it is
being done now and repackage and brought to Nigeria. We are prepared
but we are going to look at the signed agreement clause by clause to
ensure that these products will not be brought to be dumped on
“There are opportunities in the agreement; we will go beyond the
shores of this country because in terms of creating wealth, Nigeria is
better than other countries in the sub region. We will ensure that our
people produce and export to other countries. So it is going to be
survival of the fittest,” he said.

Reading the statement after the NEC meeting, Ibrahim said due to the
importance of the poultry industry to the socio economic development
of the country in terms of Gross Domestic Product, employment
generation, and food security, stakeholders agreed to work together
for the progress and unity of the industry.
“NEC observed that there have been increase in poultry investments in
the country, and subsequently production has increased. Following from
this, PAN implore the Federal Government to incorporate Egg and
Chicken into the School Feeding Programme of the Internally Displaced
Persons (IDPS), Prison Services, Armed Forces and Police and support
by the National Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).
“NEC commends the Federal Government through the Central Bank of
Nigeria (CBN) for the various Intervention funds at single digit
interest rate extended to Agriculture. However, PAN noted that the
medium and small scale poultry farmers are yet to enjoy same. NEC
implores the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to consider this category
of poultry farmers.
“NEC implores the Government through the Joint Tax Board to eliminate
all kinds of multiple taxation and VAT on poultry raw materials and
products since they are food,” he demanded.
He said the industry will continue to grow the economy for national
food security and self-sufficiency in line with the objectives of the

Picture caption 

National President of PAN Elder Ezekiel Ibrahim with other NEC members addressing the press in Abuja on Friday, 

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