By: Abdulmalik Adetola Lawal
Poultry farming in Nigeria has a long and evolving history that spans several decades. This industry has experienced significant growth and transformation, playing a crucial role in the country’s economy and food security. In this extensive article, we will delve into the history of poultry farming in Nigeria, from its early beginnings to its current status.
Nigeria has the largest annual egg production and second largest chicken population in Africa. The Nigerian poultry industry comprises about 180 Million birds.
Poultry production in Nigeria is divided into three systems: extensive, semi-intensive, and intensive. Approximately 80 million chickens are raised in extensive systems, 60 million in semi-intensive systems, and 40 million in intensive systems. Nigeria produces 300 million tons of poultry meat and 650 million tons of eggs each year. Approximately 85 million Nigerians are involved in poultry production, many on a small or medium scale.
Poultry farming in Nigeria has ancient roots, with domesticated fowl being kept for meat and eggs for centuries. Indigenous chicken breeds, such as the Nigerian indigenous chicken (NIC), were raised by traditional farmers across different regions. These birds were hardy and adapted to local conditions, making them the primary source of poultry products for local consumption.
During the colonial era, the British introduced modern poultry farming practices to Nigeria. They established commercial farms and introduced exotic breeds of chickens for improved productivity. This period marked the beginning of commercial poultry farming in Nigeria, with the production of both meat and eggs.
After gaining independence in 1960, Nigeria experienced rapid urbanization and population growth. This led to increased demand for poultry products, creating opportunities for local farmers. The government encouraged poultry farming through various initiatives and policies, which included the establishment of research institutes and training programs.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the Nigerian poultry industry faced significant challenges, including disease outbreaks like Newcastle disease and avian influenza. These outbreaks caused substantial economic losses and disrupted the sector. The need for improved biosecurity measures and vaccination programs became evident during this period.
Despite challenges, the Nigerian poultry industry has continued to evolve. Entrepreneurs and investors have modernized the sector by adopting advanced technologies, improved breeds, and better management practices. Large commercial farms have emerged, contributing significantly to the country’s poultry production.