By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Poultry farmers in Akwa Ibom State have decried the scarcity of day-old-chicks despite the existence of Akwa Prime Hatchery and Poultry limited with the production capacity of 200,000 per week.
The multibillion Naira Akwa Prime Hatchery was initiated by Governor Udom Emmanuel”s administration as part of efforts to ensure food sufficiency and curb the plight of poultry farmers in the state.
According to farmers, the project though inaugurated since 2016 by the state government, but it has not served the purpose it was established as the day-old chicks they buy are brought in from outside Akwa Ibom State.
The current scarcity of day-old chicks in the State is not unconnected with the EndSARS protest where hoodlums took advantage and destroyed both private and public property with wreckless abandoned while also attacked transporters on roads.
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.
One of the farmers, Mr. Etiinyene Inyang, told newsmen that he has been in doing poultry farming business for 12 years but this is the only time that farmers in the state have experienced this difficulty that has also threatened their source of livelihood.
“For the 12 years that I have been in poultry farming, this is the first time 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 caprice of owners of the means of production, there don’t seem to be any government regulation of the poultry industry, how, do you explain a situation where you wake up suddenly and the price of a day old chick is selling for N600, 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 an hatchery, and the intention according the government was to ensure availability of day old chicks at affordable price 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?”, Mr. Etiinyene Inyang stated.
Another farmer, Mrs. Eka Prince Ukpong, lamented about the number of casualties she recorded the last she ordered day-old-chicks from Ibandan.
According to her, she was excited just like other farmers about the idea of establishing an Hatchery in the state, but such hope has been dashed as there are no chicks several years after commissioning.
Correspondents who visited the Hatchery at Mbiaya in Uruan local government area of the state 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 project has been impassable for commuters.
Management of the company denied the newsmen access into the company, locals confided that it is only the poultry section is functional but not at full capacity.
A staff who spoke on condition of anonymity, told newsmen that though ‘’we do not have day old chicks at the moment, we have frozen chickens in sufficient quantities.’’
Many respondents have reasons to attack the sudden change in plan on the multibillion naira initiated by governor Udom Emmanuel as part of efforts for food sufficiency and curb the plight of poultry farmers in the state.
Managing Director of the poultry Company, Dr. Samuel Yakubu, had last year reportedly pledged to meet public demands by raising well over 200,000 broilers and 50,000 laying stock birds.
Attempts to speak with the State Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr. Glory Edet, for her reaction on the issue were not successful as she neither pick calls to her phone nor respond to text messages sent to her phone as at filing this report..