#Article (Archive)

Urgent Intervention is Essential

Jun 17, 2008, 6:26 AM

It is with great concern that we read in Today magazinethe comments made by the Director of the Department of Veterinary Service, Dr. Baboucarr Jaw, stating that the cost of feeds is becoming a problem for poultry farmers. He said, "the cost of feeds is very high. It makes locally produced poultry products expensive when compared with imported ones."

This is exactly the kind of trend we must work to tackle. If our local poultry production goes down, there will be a number of problems as a result. Firstly we will become increasingly dependent on imports. This will make us very vulnerable to price increases and shortages of supply. This will have a disastrous effect on our food security. Secondly if poultry farmers are forced out of business, it will have a serious knock-on effect within our communities. The poultry farmers will be unemployed and the money they had been making will no longer bolster the economy in their area. All the money of the community they supplied will leave the country rather than stay in the community. This must be prevented at all costs. Dr. Jaw has made a number of very brilliant suggestions with regard to how this situation can be tackled. He has suggested particularly that only premixed feed be imported and that locally available maize be used to produce the finished product. For this reason he has called on the Director of the Department of Extension Services to encourage farmers to grow more yellow maize as the amount currently grown in the country is insufficient to meet demand. This encouragement must take the form of large quantities of seedlings and fertiliser, according to him. All this help must be made available immediately by government.

If the farmers are producing the maize and supplying the poultry, then the increased economic activity in our rural areas will lead to very tangible benefits. For this reason it is imperative that there is swift action taken to follow Dr. Jaw's good advice. He has also called for the lobbying of government to reduce the present sales tax on imported grain or even do away with it in the short term. This too must be done with all haste. We cry bitterly about the fact that our young people try to escape to Europe, putting their lives at risk in the process. For this reason we must ensure that livelihoods such as poultry farming are viable for them if they wish to stay and engage in this kind of economic activity. The government must act swiftly before poultry farmers are driven out of business and our small rural-based economies are destroyed as a result.