By Harris Emanuel, Uyo
Farmers in Akwa Ibom state have bemoaned the scarcity of day-old-chicks despite the existence of Akwa Prime Hatchery and Poultry limited with the capacity of 200000 per week.
Some of the poultry farmers expressed frustration over the logistics challenges they face in the course of bringing day-old-chicks from Kaduna, Enugu and Ibadan, while the hatchery in the state inaugurated in 2016 is lying fallow.
One of the farmers, Mr Etoro-Obong Inyang, told newsmen that poultry farmers in the state have not had it so bad in recent times.
He said, “For the 12 years that I have been in poultry farming, this is the first time in years that poultry farmers have been so harshly affected by both economic and non-economic factors. And, quite unfortunately, nobody is available to offer any explanation.
“Farmers have been left at the whims and caprices of owners of the means of production and, there don’t seem to be any government regulation of the poultry industry. So, how do you explain a situation where you wake up suddenly and the price of a day-old chick is selling for N600, and a bag of feed goes as high as N6,000?
“And, in a state that government claims to be pursuing agriculture as one of his cardinal programmes. For instance, in 2016, the government said it has constructed a hatchery, and the intention according to the government was to ensure availability of day-old chicks at affordable prices to farmers, but, quite, unfortunately, that effort has not yielded any tangible result. Farmers are still getting their day-old chicks from Ibadan, Kaduna, and Enugu. So, the question now is where is the hatchery.
“One would have expected that farmers would be buying old chicks at humane prices, but, from all indications, the acclaimed hatchery is a ruse.
“The day-old chicks we in the market are; Amo, Chi, Sayed, and Chikun, etc. So, which one is the Akwa Prime Hatchery producing?”
Another farmer, Mrs Eka Prince Ukpong, also lamented about the number of casualties she recorded the last time she ordered day-old-chicks from Ibadan.
According to her, she was excited just like other farmers about the idea of establishing a hatchery in the state, but such hope has been dashed as there are no chicks several years after commissioning of the hatchery.
Correspondents who visited the hatchery at Mbiaya in Uruan local government area on fact findings observed that activities were at the lowest ebb, as there was no sign of business going on in the sprawling complex even as the road leading to the Hatchery has been impassable for commuters.
Management of the company denied newsmen access into the company even as locals who confided in correspondents stated that only the poultry section of the factory was functional and not even at full capacity.
A staff who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to address the newsmen, said “although we do not have day old chicks at the moment, we have frozen chickens in sufficient quantities.’’
Many respondents have reasons to question the sudden change in plan on the multibillion naira firm initiated by governor Udom Emmanuel as part of efforts for achieving food sufficiency and curb the plight of poultry farmers in the state.
Managing Director of the poultry company, Dr Samuel Yakubu, had last years reportedly pledged to meet public demands by raising well over 200,000 broilers and 50,000 laying stock birds, but that dream is yet to be realized from the look of things.
However, several calls and text message sent to the Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Glory Edet, for her reaction on the issue were not responded to as at the time of filing this report.