The Ghana Agricultural and Rural Development Journalists Association (GARDJA), has urged the Ministry of Agriculture (MOFA) to take immediate actions to salvage Ghana’s dying poultry sector.
According to them, the initiative will ensure sustainable local production, thereby, addressing the key issue of continuous importation of frozen chicken.
Additionally, it explained that rising cost of production which stems from rising poultry feed inputs like maize will be abated.
“There is no doubt that the Ghanaian poultry industry is dying and currently on artificial life support”.
Per data, the quantity of chicken imported into the country has since the early 2000s risen steadily. By implication, it is contributing more than 50% of local demand annually.
In a statement signed by the President Richard Frimpong, it explained that Ghana currently spends an estimated US$380 million importing poultry meat every year.
Prior to that, “about two decades ago, Ghana actually exported chicken to our neighbours,”
GARDJA further explained that this has caused hundreds of thousands of jobs that the industry provided for Ghanaians in the past to shift to foreign lands to the detriment of the good people in Ghana.
Struggling domestic poultry sector
Furthermore, the Association ascribed the huge imports to the struggling domestic commercial poultry meat production sector.
It further intimated that this makes the production of poultry products in the country unprofitable. This, it explained, is because it ends up being overly expensive, whilst imports cost far less.
“This is because feed costs which constitute about 70% of overall production costs are unreasonably high in Ghana.
“The cost of other inputs including medication for the birds is unreasonably high. The high cost of energy is another big problem for local producers.
“And when they manage to sail all these challenges, poultry producers struggle to get market for their produce because imports are cheaper”.
Additionally, the group entreated government to introduce drastic actions to help save the Agriculture subsector. This, it insisted is essential in spite of programs such as the “Rearing for Food and Jobs”, being implemented.
“We have paid attention to the challenges in the poultry sector over the years and have come up with a proposal to help turn the tides.
“We obviously need increased government investments in the sector to produce better-quality day-old chicks, and other inputs. We need subsidies on feed, and better processing and marketing facilities.
“We also need stability in electricity supply to production centres at lower costs”.
Recommendations by GARDJA
As part of its recommendation, GARDJA maintains that even “more importantly, we would propose that government acts quickly and immediately restrict importation of poultry into the country.
To achieve this, it suggested that a cap should be placed on the importation of frozen chicken into the country.
Also, it noted that wholesale importers should be given a quota to ensure they purchase at least 60% of the poultry they use locally and only import 40%.
This directive, the Association revealed, should apply to poultry importers and food companies like KFC, Papaye and other major users of poultry in the country.
“Government should limit the importation of chicken to selected entry points in the country so that such quota can be vigorously monitored and enforced.
“Government should additionally ban the importation of chicken which have been frozen for more than one year at their production points before being shipped to Ghana. Because Ghanaians don’t deserve to be consuming such products which obviously are unhealthy”.
GARDJA further urged importers of frozen chicken to be interested in supporting the growth of the local industry. According to them, this can be achieved by investing in it, since Ghana has the capacity to improve local production of poultry.