Local poultry industry’s woes must be tackled.

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Local poultry producers are pleading with the populace to patronize locally produced chicken. This, they note, will not only help local poultry producers expand their businesses and employ more Ghanaians, but will also contribute to socio-economic development.
Ghana spent about $168 million in 2016 on the importation of chicken. Local poultry farmers also have to grapple with high cost of credit and the difficulty in accessing it, unlike their foreign counterparts who pay almost zero interest on loans.
This renders them less competitive than their foreign counterparts, and thus there is an increased demand for frozen poultry products that are invariably imported.
However, government has no plan of banning poultry imports into the country, it rather wants to concentrate on building the capacity of the local poultry industry.
To this end, the country would produce enough soya bean and maize, the main ingredients of poultry feed, through the “Planting for Foo and Jobs” campaign.
“The maize and the soya beans are meant to go into the poultry industry to reduce the cost of production of poultry and ultimately reduce the huge amount of poultry coming into the country. This will generate a lot of jobs”, Dr Owusu Akoto-Afriyie, Agric Minister said.
This is all well and good but what is equally important is what is currently being undertaken by local live bird sellers in the greater Accra Region who are undertaking a three-month training for 10 associations of live bird sellers all in a bid to ensure that chicken is processed and dressed under strict hygienic conditions.
Ghana’s middle class is growing and the more sophisticated they become, the more they insist on adhering to basic hygienic practices; and since these live bird sellers often operate under unhygienic conditions, these enlightened Ghanaians prefer the frozen imported poultry because of the belief that they are processed hygienically.
The industry is undertaking this training of trainers (ToT) and providing the associations with wellington boots, thermometers, hand gloves, apron, butcher’s knife among other accruements.
We believe if local poultry sellers upgrade their operations to imbibe good hygienic practices, they will become equally competitive and hold their own against foreign competition. It is good that government has recognized that the cost of inputs stifles the local poultry industry and has incorporated the planting of soybean and maize into the ‘Planting for food and jobs’ programme, with the view to killing two birds with one stone.
According to Ghana’s Poultry Producers Association figures, local production is currently at five percent, leaving importers to fill the yawning gap. This tend needs to be reversed in the interest of the local industry.