Why smuggling of imported poultry into Nigeria may not end soon

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has strongly warned against the consumption of imported or smuggled frozen poultry and meat, threatening to take action should any smugglers or dealers be found with the banned products. NAFDAC Director General, Dr Paul Orhii, gave this counsel at a media briefing in Lagos during which a study carried out by experts from University of Ibadan was presented.

Imported poultry products, especially chicken and turkey have been identified as causative agents in non- communicable diseases (NCDs) and antibiotics resistance. Some of these health conditions include hypertension, kidney disease, and cancer. However the illegal smuggling of these products have prevailed amidst previous warnings.

Despite a ban on the importation of these food items, a group of Nigerians continue to traffic frozen poultry and meat into the country. Their efforts, however, have been encouraged by Nigeria’s inability to meet up with local demand for these products. According to the president of the Poultry Association of Nigeria Dr Ayoola Odutan while the local demand for frozen chicken is above two million metric tonnes annually, Nigerian farmers are only able to produce 300,000 metric tonnes, leaving a wide gap of more than 1.7 million metric tonne. “Out of this figure, smuggled chicken accounts for 1.2 million metric tonnes annually.”

As long as there is local deficit for poultry products, smugglers will remain the go-to “alternative.” NAFDAC has however stressed the fact that although it may seem like the easy way out, these smuggled goods are partly responsible for health issues among consumers.

Dr Orhii explained that the continuous consumption of imported chicken and turkey could damage the human system on the long run, unlike poultry foods produced locally, which have been found safer for consumption.

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