Those with intention of going into commercial egg production still have the opportunity to make huge sales as egg demand in Nigeria still outweighs supply.

In spite of the much talked about glut, quite a number of egg producers are continuously making plans to increase production.

Olaitan Mustapha of Latwin Farm in Aiyedoto Farm Settlement, Lagos, is one of such, as she is planning to increase from about 1,000 birds to 10,000 next year.

Mustapha says, “I want to expand. I am currently on a government owned farm estate and there are limitations to expansion. By 2012, I plan to have about 10,000 birds in another location.”

Glut

Poultry farmers often complain of egg glut, Olaitan explains that glut is not a serious issue capable of threatening a poultry farming business, as “glut happens only at certain and very short period in the year. It occurs when big farms have new set of layers – birds that have just started laying eggs. These lay small eggs. In order to sell these eggs, the farms bring down the price. The egg marketers would then prefer to buy these ones and it becomes difficult to get the normal sized eggs sold.”

The reason for this, according to some farmers, is that wholesalers that buy such small eggs sell them at about the same price they have been selling eggs to retailers and consumers and therefore make more profit. So, they shun the normal sized eggs, since they are the bulk buyers that go to farms, farmers with normal sized eggs temporarily have difficulty getting their eggs sold. But some farmers with resilience simply take their normal sized eggs directly to retailers and consumers and get them sold.

Jude Okwudili, another poultry farmer, says he mitigates the problem of glut by buying the unsold eggs off his farm and then takes them to retailers and consumers. According to him, he is able to earn some profit as an individual apart from the profit his business makes from him buying the eggs.

Whichever measures farmers use in mitigating the effect of glut, Mustapha says the period is short-lived and the birds laying small eggs soon start laying the normal sizes and the prices crates are sold soon agree with those of other farmers.

She affirms what other farmers have said that “Nigeria has a large population and the eggs we are producing is not yet sufficient to meet the demand of the populace. But it is essential that a farmer ensures that his price is competitive so that sales would be high.” These farmers also affirm that having large number of birds increases profitability as economy of scale comes to play.

Droppings

Keeping the pens clean has been challenging. She says, “We engage labourers to pack the litters and bury them, but roads have been constructed on those areas. So, we now have to look for an alternative place to dispose the litters. There was a time vegetable farmers come to buy these droppings to use as manure, but the cost of transporting them has made them stop.

“We have even asked them to pack the litters free, but the transport cost has prevented them from taking advantage of the free manure. So, we get transport and take it to them. There is no foul odour on my farm because we use commercial finish feed and they have put in chemicals that prevent foul odour. We also spray disinfectant every morning.

Challenges

Getting funds for expansion has been a challenge. We were using deep litter system but we had a lot of mortality, production was low, there was cannibalism and the birds would stress themselves moving around instead of using the energy for production. Cleaning the pens was hard work and we were often short of staff because some employees ran away due to the stress, so we changed to battery cage system which is much easier to manage.

The outbreak of bird flu some years ago was a major challenge. I was compensated but it was not commensurate. By the time the federal government officials arrive on my farm, three quarters of the birds had died, so I was compensated for only the ones they slaughtered to stop the spread. It took another one year before we were allowed to restart the business.

Accessing bank loan was a challenge. We needed a lot of money because the business is capital intensive, but the Nigerian Agricultural Credit and Rural Development Bank (NACRBD) gave us just N250, 000.

When we requested for a higher amount, we were asked to get collateral we did not have. Commercial banks have also offered us loans but their interest rates are high. Some fellow farmers were able to access high interest loans with promise of Interest Draw Back (IDP) by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) but they have not been repaid the 40 percent of the interest which they paid on the loan according to the IDP scheme, so the rest of us are not motivated to collect the loan.”

Mustapha is however one of the farmers that have benefitted from the World Bank Assisted Commercial Agriculture Development Programme (CADP) to acquire nipple fitted water drinker battery cages at 50 percent of the cost.

She said, “I was able to acquire six units of a modern battery cage system with nipple fitted water drinker equipment which costs N80, 000 per unit at 50 percent of the price.

The counterpart funding was provided by CADP with assistance of the World Bank.” So, rather than having to pay N480,000, she paid only N240,000. She said, “Before I got the nipple fitted water drinker battery cages, I was getting 20 crates of eggs per day and I sold them at N600 per crate, that is N12,000 per day. But with these new cages, I now get 25 crates of eggs per day and I am able to sell the eggs at N650 per crate, that is about N16, 250 daily gross revenue.”

Mustapha said the birds still consume the same quantity of feeds. She added, “In the open drinker system, we used to have a lot of mortality, about 14 birds die in a week but now mortality has reduced to just five birds in a whole month. There are some weeks we do not even have mortality.”

She notes: “The intervention has greatly increased our profit and reduced the cost of production. With the nipple fitted drinkers, the water is enclosed, the birds just sucks the water from the nipple. Unlike the open drinker which uses water troughs, the possibility of transmission of diseases through water is reduced. The N240, 000 I paid for the six units can be recovered within one year of the investment.”

Background

She says: “I read agriculture at the University of Agriculture Abeokuta (UNAAB). I worked in the ministry of agriculture and natural resources. We used to visit farms and advise farmers. It was there I got to know that this poultry business is very lucrative, so I started a backyard poultry farm in 1996. By the time I retired in 2003, I had gotten this place and I went full into it full time.”   ( Culled from Businessday Online)

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