Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja
The Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, has directed the Ministry of Agriculture to liaise with the Ministry of Finance on how to settle the N1.7bn outstanding compensation for poultry farmers whose birds were destroyed by the Federal Government because of the outbreak of avian flu.
The government is also making efforts to address the shortage of maize and soya beans which has led to the astronomical increase in the prices of the grains.
It has again raised the alarm over imported frozen chicken, saying they are causes of some diseases.
The Minister of State, Agriculture, Heineken Lokpobiri, disclosed these to State House correspondents after a meeting Osinbajo had with a delegation of Poultry Farmers Association of Nigeria at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Friday.
Lokpobiri said the outbreak of the avian flu led to the destruction of many birds in the country.
He said while part of the compensation had been paid, the government still has an outstanding N1.7bn to pay.
“We have an outstanding of N1.7bn to pay. The acting President said we (Ministry of Agriculture) should liase with the Ministry of Finance to see how we can get that sorted out,” the minister said.
He said the meeting also addressed some concerns in the poultry industry especially the rising cost of maize and soya beans which are important inputs of the industry.
He explained that the invasion of army worms on maize farms in 2016 led to a huge shortage of maize and soya beans in the country.
That development, he said, had made the price of maize to increase to as high as N140,000 to N150,000 and above.
The minister said, “They (the poultry farmers) came today to see how we can intervene to get maize available in the market.
“This is also an opportunity to send a signal to those who are hoarding maize that anybody who is hoarding maize is hoarding at his own peril, the Federal Government will not buy.
“What we have is a programme that will deliberately grow more maize which will satisfy the local and international market.
“We have demands from Algeria and some other countries that if we are able to grow two million and above metric tones for them, we will construct a rail line to Kano.
“We have been directed by the President to a land grower scheme on a sustainable basis to guarantee the availability of maize in the country.
“In the short term, the government has intervened to have maize available for the poultry industry.”
Lokpobiri added that the issue of smuggling also came up during the meeting with the Acting President.
He said many Nigerians are now down with unknown diseases as a result of the health hazards involved in eating frozen chicken.
“Part of the reasons we have a lot of people down with certain diseases we do not know is the health hazard due to consumption of frozen chicken.
“Most times, they use what they use to preserve dead bodies and it cause harm to the kidney.
“Customs too was in the meeting and charged on how to improve their surveillance programme so that we stop that.
“We discussed other issues about agricultural equipment which people will benefit from the policy of zero duties and essentially is to see how we can intervene in the poultry industry with membership of over 15 million people.
“I can proudly say it is the most organised and because we have a huge market so we have a duty to intervene.”
The National President of the Poultry Farmers Association of Nigeria, Ayoola Oduntan, commended the Federal Government for being proactive at addressing the issues of shortage of maize across the country.
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun; Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Hammed Ali; and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, also attended the meeting.
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