The ban on importation of frozen poultry, especially turkey and chicken into Nigeria began in 2003, but had not been effective as the products still saturate various markets across the country. As part of efforts to ensure that the ban is enforced, a special anti-smuggling operation, ‘Operation Hawk Descend’ was launched in Seme on July 7th 2015 by the former Comptroller General of Customs, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko. Despite these, smugglers find ways of bringing the imported frozen poultry products into the country which Nigerians purchase on a daily basis. Lydia Ojarikre went to town to find out if Nigerians are aware that the frozen poultry products are contraband goods and what can be done to stop its influx in the market.
Yes I am aware that the imported frozen poultry products are contraband goods. I constantly hear of such smuggled products coming in regularly through the Idiroko and Seme border but what is the government doing to stop such happenings because the frozen chicken especially the one called ‘Orobo Chicken’ is not good for the health due to the chemicals injected into it to make it that big. I just hope the government regulatory bodies put things in place. Another issue is our border, they are quite porous. The frozen poultry products are smuggled into the country daily from Benin Republic and Togo through various border points. Ways in which its importation can be curbed is by creating more awareness and campaigns via various media channels that is the TV, Radio, Online media and Newspapers to enlighten people of the effect of its consumption as well as how buying the locally poultry products can help boost our economy as only few people know that the imported frozen ones are contraband goods. Another is by increasing our local production as the demand is higher than the supply. I read in the papers, that the local demand for poultry is about 2million metric tons annually. Nigerian farmers have the capacity of producing 700,000 to 1million metric tons yet were only able to produce 300,000 metric tons leaving a wide gap of more than 1.7million metric tons. Therefore out of this figure, smuggled poultry accounts for 1.2 million metric tons annually. These figure just shows of how the imported frozen poultry products have flooded the Nigerian market.
No I am not aware that the frozen poultry products are contraband goods. The truth is the imported frozen chicken is affordable for everyone unlike the local chicken that is more expensive. Now that I know it’s a contraband product i will limit its consumption but that doesn’t stop me from buying it because it is affordable for an average Nigerian. The only way I believe it’s importation can be curbed is by encouraging more individuals to go into poultry farming, the government can also give grants and loans to individuals to start up a poultry thereby subsiding the cost of chicken. If there is fuel subsidy then of course there can be food subsidy.
Sapele, Delta State
I heard that imported frozen poultry products are contraband goods via a radio discussion program which talked about the health implication of its consumption and how some owners of cold stores dig up the ones buried by Custom officials and sell them to the general public. To stop the influx of the product in the market, proper awareness and enlightenment needs to be carried out as only few people know that the imported frozen poultry products are banned goods. Secondly, government needs to enforce certain laws to curb its influx and our borders should also be manned by the right authorities so that the smugglers can be caught. Lastly, the local poultry farmers should look for ways to increase their production so as to meet the consumption rate of Nigerians.
Yes I am aware but what are the authorized officials doing about it. The answer is not farfetched when you look around you. The cold stores that sell imported frozen poultry in your neighbourhood, are they still in business? Those known warehouses that house cold rooms where people make bulk purchases of imported poultry, have they been shut down or run out of business? The consumption of smuggled frozen poultry meat have adverse effects on the consumer health because experts have claimed that formalin (a substance used in preserving dead bodies) was being used to keep them fresh aside that salmonella contamination might also be involved via processing, transportation from one country to another. The imported frozen poultry product said to be about the second largest consumed meat in the country is placed on the import prohibition list of the Nigeria Customs Service but why do they keep finding their way into the country? It is because of the porosity of our borders. There are several illegal routes which these smugglers bring this product into the country. Government really needs to do a lot about these. I know Customs officials are trying their best because I read in the dailies of how they seize these products regularly but they still need to do more and other agencies have to be involved also. Government should also encourage local poultry farmers by giving them soft loans to help boost local production and the price should also be moderate so an average Nigerian can afford it because the fresh products are better, healthier and to a reasonable extent safer for human consumption.
Port Harcourt, Rivers State
Yes I am aware that the imported frozen poultry products are banned goods. Some government agencies such as the Nigeria Customs Service, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) have made efforts in trying to shield consumers from dangers of its consumption but no alternatives or serious efforts have been put in place to increase local production. If local production is not increased, the ban will only more or less increase the price of the imported poultry in the market thereby placing high demand on it. I like the approach the immediate past Comptroller General of Customs took by creating a special anti-smuggling operation where he assured Nigerians that within three months of the campaign, importation of smuggled poultry would be curtailed. From the first to sixth week several seizures running into billions of naira were made by Customs officers mainly in the south western axis of the Nigerian-Benin border. The exercise provoked several commendations. However, all these only lasted for a short while as it couldn’t be sustained as the way it kicked off. Instead of curbing the activities of the smugglers, it seems that they only succeeded in inflating the price of both the imported and locally produced poultry. A report I read online but don’t know how true it is revealed that smugglers are no longer encountering resistance from government officials and as such retailers are buying the smuggled poultry just like they were doing. The price has gone back to the normal price. As at now, importers or should we say smugglers were selling a carton of chicken between N6,000 to N6,500 while retailers then sell at N800 per kilo. The price of the locally processed ones which also went up because of the increased demand has also come down from N1500 per kg to N850-N900 per kg. The markets are filled again with the smuggled poultry which of course is being served in restaurants. Most people prefer the locally grown free range and semi free range poultry which is tasty but they are far more expensive. Even the locally processed broilers, old layers are more expensive than the smuggled frozen ones. Besides, while the smuggled ones are retailed almost everywhere, the locally processed ones are not too easy to come by. In some cases one will have to take transport to buy it, making the cost even more expensive. The Nigeria Customs Service should put more effort to successfully wage war against the smuggling of these poultry. Government should also do more to encourage the local poultry farmers.
Yes I am aware that they are contraband goods but only few people know that. Awareness should be created via various media channels, the price of the local poultry product should also be reduced because it is as a result of the affordability of the imported poultry product that makes people patronize it.
Yes I am aware that the frozen poultry products are contraband goods but what baffles me is why they are still flooded in the market. In developed countries, they look at what the construction patterns are, what the volume of local production is and they use that to decide if at all they need to import just to fill up what they produce locally. Nigerians needs to be enlightened on the effect the imported frozen poultry has on their health and to the economy. The Federal Government should also liaise with the government of neighbouring countries as 90% of the imported frozen poultry products in the country are smuggled from Republic of Benin and Togo.
No I am not aware that the frozen poultry products are contraband goods. I buy them on a regular basis because they are affordable and more accessible than the live chicken and fresh fish. With N800 to N900, you would get a kilo of chicken or turkey but with N1500 to N2500 you get the live chicken which is quite on the high side for an average Nigerian. Since it is a contraband good, the local poultry farmers should work on increasing their production so as to meet the demand of consumers. If you go to the cold stores, you will see hundreds of people buying this frozen poultry product daily without knowing they are banned goods. More awareness should be created so as to let Nigerians know the effect of buying the imported frozen poultry products.
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