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Inflation Drives Essential Proteins Out of Reach for Nigerians

Egg prices soar, putting a healthy diet beyond many families and threatening a nutritional crisis.

by Adenike Adeodun

Nigeria’s poultry industry is sounding the alarm, warning of an imminent collapse within months if urgent interventions are not made. This crisis has propelled the cost of eggs to unprecedented levels, with a single egg now fetching as much as N150, and a crate averaging N3,600. This steep increase is more than just an economic issue; it’s pushing the nutritious staple of an egg-a-day diet beyond the reach of most Nigerians, raising fears of a worsening malnutrition crisis.

The 2022 Nigeria Bureau of Statistics Demographic Statistics Bulletin highlights a grim reality: nine out of ten Nigerian children are deprived of essential dairy and protein sources, including eggs. This nutritional deficiency is alarming, with a significant portion of children under five facing severe acute malnutrition. With the daily protein intake in Nigeria already below the global average, the current crisis in the poultry sector could exacerbate the country’s malnutrition challenges.

Poultry farmers are at their wits’ end, unable to sustain their businesses amid soaring operational costs and diminishing returns. The industry’s plea for government support has yet to be answered, leaving many to face the harsh reality of abandoning their livelihoods. The root of the crisis traces back to the lockdown in 2020 and was exacerbated by last year’s naira redesign crisis, plunging the sector into turmoil.

According to a report by The Guardian, the skyrocketing costs of maize and soybean meal, crucial for poultry feed, have doubled in just a year, further straining farmers’ ability to maintain production. Imported feed components have also seen a drastic price increase due to the forex crisis, leaving farmers scrambling for cheaper, less effective alternatives. This has led to reduced egg production and further price hikes, making eggs an unaffordable luxury for many Nigerian families.

The situation is dire, with the potential collapse of the poultry industry not only threatening the livelihoods of farmers but also the nutritional health of the nation. The government’s intervention is urgently needed to release grain reserves and stabilize feed prices to prevent total sector collapse.

As costs continue to escalate, the dream of a crate of eggs remaining affordable by year-end seems increasingly out of reach. With many farms closing down and others unable to keep up with the rising costs, the country faces a looming food security and nutritional health crisis.

The state’s response is crucial to averting this catastrophe. Without swift action, the ripple effects of this crisis will be felt across the nation, from the dinner table to the broader economy, making it imperative for all stakeholders to come together to find sustainable solutions.

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