Players in the livestock industry are calling on the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to initiate long-term policies to ensure sustainable animal production to meèt local consumption and create stable jobs for people.
The coronavirus pandemic has already taken a toll on some players in the livestock value chain, as the closure of borders has slowed down the importation of animals from neighbouring countries.
Some industry players in an interview with Citi Business News indicated that they have been severely affected due Covid-19 induced restrictions. They also lament low patronage as a result of the situation.
“Frankly speaking, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our business badly. People are unable to come here and buy like they used to. People used to come here in their numbers but they have not been coming because they fear a lot of people will gather and as a result, just a few people have been coming around. It has slowed down our business,” Alhaji Issaka Nab, a butcher lamented.
“Covid-19 has really affected us. We have been incurring losses,” another butcher, Ibrahim Walewale added.
The Kumasi Abattoir, which is one of Ghana’s largest slaughterhouses, has been bearing the brunt of this, as the fate of its one hundred and forty five (145) staff hangs in the balance due to significant losses incurred within the period. The Managing Director of the company, Joe Owusu Boadi says they have been struggling to pay salaries of their workers as a result of the development.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on the Kumasi Abattoir. As it is, all the areas that we used to sell our meat to, especially the chop bars, restaurants and hotels- are not buying much. Also, there are no funerals, parties, weddings so people were not gathering. Normally, where there used to be gathering, that’s where we used to get people buying meat. It has cost Kumasi Abattoir a lot. Now, we are slaughtering around 110, 120, at 50, 70. It has brought my slaughtering fee down drastically and we depend on this thing to pay our salaries because our core business is the slaughtering. So without the slaughtering, I can’t pay my salaries.”
“In fact, every month I have to go for overdraft to pay my people. So the cost of operation is now high. We need some financial assistance”.
A research conducted by nine veterinary doctors across the country corroborated the claims by the industry players. Dr. Obed Owusu Yeboah, the Kumasi Metropolitan Veterinary Doctor, explained that the research showed that covid-19 has had serious impact on the livestock industry.
“Three weeks prior to the lockdown, the Kumasi Abattoir for instance, these were the slaughtering figures- we had a total of 725 cattle being slaughtered, 533 for sheep and goat, but three weeks into the lockdown, what we found out was that, cattle being slaughtered had been reduced to 308, representing 55.5 % and then for sheep and goat, it has reduced from 533 to 236 representing 23.4%. So you can see that the lockdown had huge impact on the slaughtering activities”.
Covid-19 and its associated restrictions imposed by various countries has also exposed Ghana’s shortfall in the animal production sector.
According to the players in the livestock industry, the chunk of the animal products on the Ghanaian market are imported into the country from Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger among others, but that has been hampered by border closures.
They are also worried about the depreciation of the cedi as against the CFA Franc, which has caused an increase in prices of the animals brought into the country, thereby causing an increase in their prices as well.
They’re thus calling on government to develop policies that will make it possible for more of the animals to be reared in Ghana in large numbers to feed the population.