Poultry Sector Choking To Death

The lack of political will on the part of successive government and broken-promises made to the poultry sector have pushed the sector to the brink of demise, according to stakeholders in the sector. �So far, no promise of government has had any meaningful fulfilment or implementation,� said Mr. John Nii Torto, Executive Member of Ghana National Association of Poultry Farmers (GNAPF). �Government promised in the 2011 budget to levy duties to cut down on imports of poultry and fish into the country and to support local production � this has not been met,� Mr. Torto said. Speaking at the launch of the Association�s website (www.gnapf.com) in Accra, he stated that the poultry sector faces numerous setbacks, yet it is the most developed sub-sector of the livestock industry in the country. In 2010 alone the EU, USA and Brazil together exported over 200,000 tonnes of frozen chicken to Ghana. In 2002, more than 26,000 tonnes of chicken was imported into the country, mostly from the EU where farmers receive generous subsidies for production. In 2005 and 2008, the figure was estimated to be as high as 50,000 and 90,000 metric tonnes respectively. Ghana imports almost one-third of the EU's total frozen chicken that goes to Africa. During President John Kuffour�s administration, the tax on imported poultry was reduced from 40 percent to 20 percent but never implemented. Players in the poultry sector argue that these imports of live birds, frozen chicken parts and full chicken are posing serious threats to the local poultry sector. �Such imports create price distortion and disparity of about 40-50% below the price of a locally produced chicken. This squeezes the locally produced chicken out of the market curve,� said Mr. Torto. Currently, the price of local poultry is GH�15.00 per 1.4kg dressed weight, higher than the imported poultry of GH�7.50 per 1.4kg dressed weight. The price difference reflects quality differences and taste, but 92 per cent of local consumption is imported. The Executive Director of Third World Network, Dr. Yao Graham, blamed various governments of recent times for the plight of the local poultry farmer, adding that �The problems of the farmers have been deepened by the policies of the Bretton-Woods institutions, leading to a neglect of the sector that has resulted in its near collapse.� Dr. Graham said: �Because the sector impacted on a lot of people in the production chain ranging from the poultry farmers, owners, workers, grains and cereal production and even egg-sellers, any negative repercussions will affect all these people in the chain and their dependents.� But last year, the Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Pascal Lamy, said Ghana's inability to impose tariffs to protect the local poultry sector cannot be blamed on the world-body. He insisted that unfavourable domestic policies, with a low tariff regime, have contributed to the continuous dumping of the subsidised poultry products from the EU. He said failure of the Ghana government to come out with clear policies that will protect the local poultry sector has triggered the import-surge of poultry products. Mr. Lamy stated that Ghana's position has further been made hopeless with government deciding not to increase tariffs on imported poultry. The WTO provides a forum for negotiating agreements aimed at reducing obstacles (like subsidies and tariffs) to international trade and ensuring a level playing field for all. It also provides a legal and institutional framework for the implementation and monitoring of these agreements, as well as for settling disputes arising from their interpretation and application.