By; Abdull-Azeez Ahmed Kadir, Kaduna.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has said the Federal Government is intensifying efforts to invest in irrigation and power supply by putting to effective use over 200 under utilised Dams in various location across the country.
The Minister made this assertion during the ground breaking ceremony of the Animal Feed and Protein Business of the largest poultry farm in sub-sahara Africa by Ollam along Kaduna-Abuja highway on Friday.
Mr Ogbeh who was represented by the Executive Director Operation of the Ministry, Mr Obinna Okpara stressed that in the area of livestock, the Federal Government is focusing attention on increasing production for both local and foreign market.
He said this is “because poultry, beef, milk, goat and sheep are in very high demand in Nigeria and beyond”.
He applauded Governor Nasir Ahmad El-rufai for his effort to ensure the nation achieves food and nutrition security through the investment in the state.
According to him, the gesture is impacting positively on the state and the national school feeding initiative.
The Minister reiterated FG’s commitment to Agriculture, asserting that no nation can truly boast of sovereignty if it can not feed her citizens sustainably.
“The need to put in place adequate measures for ensuring sustainable food security and well being of Nigerians is even most compelling bearing in mind our anticipated population in the range of 450 million” he said.
He stressed the FG vision for revival of the Agriculture sector 2016-2020 to transform into a viral engine of growth and accelerated national development of a road map for the sector.
“The highlight of the road map are measured trust of the investment by Olam, the overwhelming goal of the road map is to build an agricultural business economy capable of meeting our domestic food security. Requirement generating export to broaden national revenue base as supporting sustainable income.
“Through wealth creation, promotion of entrepreneurial activities for fostering youth employment and enhancing national productivity”.
According to him, the visionary goal of Gov El-rufai and Olam, has keyed-in into the FG vision in the sector.
He said, the first target upon the road map is taken immediate step to attained self sufficiency in local staples, grains and emphasis is on sufficiency within 36 month in rice, maize mealet, wheat, legumes and soya beans over the same period.
According to Ogbe, this would help achieve import substitution and significantly stabilise and reduce the high import bill currently being generated on food items.
He said, the strategy involve relentlessly pursuing the development of Agro export sector which was the main strength in the past.
“Reaching this target and other outlined issues on our road map will entail total cultivation of additional 2 million hectares of land yielding two crop in a year ” he said.
He asserted that another milestone on the road map is the promotion of all year round agricultural production.
“It is clear that huge volume of food needed to feed national population of 170 million people agriculture can no longer be treated as a seasonal enterprise fully dependent on rain fall” he enthused.
He said the Olam investment in Kaduna, “would go along way in reducing over dependency on imported product. Adding that there is no doubt that a spectacular feed which is in line with the determination of FG to diversify the nation economy away from the mono oil economy in Agriculture in focus”
The Minister however decried the massive importation of frozen poultry product into the country through our boarders
“Costing hundred of dollars annual and depleting our foreign reserves, beside the huge lost in foreign exchange and consequent importation of unemployment, we are importing alien ailment to non communicable disease”.
He said, it is in recognition of this challenges that the FG and Ministry of Agriculture are currently tackling the issue of avian influenza in partnership with Poultry Association of Nigeria.
“We are also re introducing all the measure taken in 2006 to reduce the havoc caused by the influenza”he assured.
He further urged Olam to invest in research and development to run the establishment, research in animal health diseases and also acquire extension services delivery to customers in the industry to avoid issues of diseases.
Speaking also at the ground breaking ceremony , Kaduna State Governor Nasir Ahmed El-rufai, said the Olam investment in the state would create jobs for the citizenry.
According him, farmers in the state would have an expanded market for their grains and soya beans through the demand from the feed mill and other value chain that will be available.
El-rufai said the output from the poultry project would make up for the food fall into Kaduna as people come to purchase eggs, day old chicks and other poultry product and the state in general would be immense.
He said, Kaduna state have the comparative advantage in agriculture and mining adding that, farmers would have an expanded market for their grains and soya beans through the demand from the feed mill and other value chains.
He said, the killings and violence in Kaduna are attributed directly to economic factors.
“We are concerned and intend to address this factors by putting money into people’s pocket, because people with money do not fight.
“As a government we can only directly employed tiny population of our people, but we enable the condition for private sector to employ million of jobs” he said.
On his part the Chief Executive Officer of Olam Africa, Mr Venkataramani Srivathsan, said “This is the latest investment by Olam in Nigeria’s domestic food and agricultural production sector with the investment of over 30 billion Naira, US$150 million in total investments, approximately US$100 million (about 20 billion Naira) has been committed to building and operating the facilities in Kaduna State.
According to him, OLAM have the full capacity and both feed mills are expected to produce in excess of 600,000 tonnes per annum of high-quality poultry and fish feed, with the Kaduna facility supplying mainly to the Northern markets
He said , the poultry breeding farm in Kaduna is expected to produce over 1 million hatching eggs every week for the hatchery.
“The feed mills will procure most of their corn and soya bean requirements locally, spurring growth of these domestic crops. Olam will create over 100,000 metric tonnes of in-house storage capacity, which will also help support food security” he assured.
He further reiterated Olam commitment to contribute to the development of the Nigerian poultry and aquaculture sectors by providing not only competitively priced feed and chicks, but also technical support to local poultry farmers.
“The increased productivity and returns is expected to stimulate rural self-employment opportunities, particularly for young people.
“The company is developing community partnerships by working with the Kaduna State Government to develop a model for supplying eggs and chicken for its school meals programme at below-market prices. It is also working with the neighbouring communities to create a Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (CRS) agenda covering education, health and sanitation” he claimed.