Lack of capital following the shock created by bird flu outbreak last year has left farmers unable to meet up with demand from chicken-crazy eaters.
Hundreds of poultry farmers across the country are yet to recover from the shock orchestrated by the outbreak of the H5N1 virus which hit Cameroon on May 22, 2016. The bird flu outbreak which was recorded in one of the country’s largest farms in Yaounde, left thousands of birds dead, while hundreds of thousands others were decimated in coordinated operations particularly in the Centre and West Regions.
In a bid to contain the outbreak and prevent it from further contaminating other birds and humans, the Minister of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industry, Dr. Taiga, placed a ban on the sale of poultry products in Yaounde. This action, though as timely and worthwhile as it was said to be, further put the farmers in a tight corner. The outcome was that the farmers could no longer meet up with the rising demand of the table bird and its eggs, systematically leading to a rise in the prices of the product.
However, some of the poultry farmers remained steadfast as they continued with production, though at small pace. It came to pass that the ban of the commercialization of chicken was lifted and farmers started reinvesting in the once outlawed trade. We gathered that majority of the farmers who were into medium and large scale production secured loans from financial institutions to acquire chicks, fowl feed and veterinary products to restart their activities at individual levels. But such efforts have been less successful as they are plagued with hurdles in repaying the loans or acquiring more.
When bird flu devastated the country’s poultry sector last year, besides some urgent measures which Government took to arrest the outbreak, the Competitiveness Committee of the Ministry of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development came out with a bailout plan. The plan which is pegged on the relaunch of poultry farming in the country, focuses on promoting competitiveness and investment in the sector. It was produced after private/public consultations with poultry farmers and experts from Government ministries.
As good as the strategies in the plan may be, we learned its implementation is still limping, seemingly due to lack of funds. The State is already overwhelmed by the drop in the price of global commodities and security threats posed by Boko Haram and CAR rebels. This situation has left the poultry sector in dire need of rapid intervention.