march 18, 2005 03:14:25/The Guardian
THE recent ban on poultry products importation into Togo and Benin Republic has effectively shut off 350,000 tonnes of chicken smuggled into Nigeria through illegal routes.
Chairman, Biological Concept, a technical partner of the Ekiti State Poultry, Project, Mr. Gbenga James, stated this when he hosted members of the state House of Assembly who were on a fact-finding mission to the company\'s farm in Ibadan.
He said with the ban, \"We now assume that all things being equal, chicken that is smuggled through Republic of Benin will be nil, because there won\'t be any chicken to import again.\"
According to James, facts at the disposal of stakeholders\' council of the Poultry Association of Nigeria, showed that 500,000 tonnes of chicken gets to Republic of Benin every year, while the home consumption stood at only 150,000 tonnes, with the rest finding its way to the Nigerian market through illegal routes.
"If you get to Benin Republic now, there is no more in existence what we call poultry production. All the farmers there are complaining that they could not sell their poultry product because of the influx of imported poultry product,\" he said.
On the project in Ekiti, which has generated controversy for some time now, James told the state legislators, led by the Speaker, Mr. Friday Aderemi, that indigenes of the state should patiently wait for the dividend of the project, which would soon manifest.
He noted that the poultry farms cited in all the 16 local governments of the state would create employment for youths in the state, adding that some have been recruited and undergoing training to fit into job prescription on site.
James also allayed the fears of the legislators on what becomes of the massive chicken turnout from the farms, noting that there was ready market for every product from the farms.
The chairman, Biological Concept who is also the owner of Avian Specialities, Ibadan, told them that the N600 million state-of-the-art digital hatchery in his farm was capable of hatching 2.8 million chicks monthly, which will ensure regular supply of day-old chicks to the farm.
He said through this, the state would have saved 50 per cent of the cost of importing day-old chicks from abroad, adding that this means more money to the coffers of the state.
James told the legislators that through his expertise and technical back-up, the state would soon realise huge profit as internally generated revenue which would be channelled towards building infrastructures without solely depending on Federal Allocation.
The poultry farmers noted that in no time, the state\'s name would be registered on the poultry world map as the highest producer of chicken in the country.
Responding, the Speaker, who admitted that he was impressed by what he saw at the multi-billion naira farm estates (20 in all), urged Ekiti people to cooperate with the firm in its quest to turn around the fortunes of the state.
"Let me use this forum to formally commend your management for their initiative to develop the agricultural sector of our economy by venturing into the mass production of poultry birds in all the 16 local governments of the state. This will not only provide enough production of birds for the consumption of proteinous food by all and sundry, it will also provide employment opportunities for our teeming unemployed citizens of the state. Ekiti, being an agrarian society will no doubt record improvement in the internally generated revenue, which can be used in other sectors of the economy. I salute your courage in this gigantic stride,\" the Speaker said.
Aderemi, who disclosed that by the visit, he is now better informed, stated that in the course of carrying out the oversight functions of the House, the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development visited the project locations several times to ascertain the various stages of their execution.
He said the committee noted the good quality of work going on at the sites, adding that only a rabid detractor of the government would not see anything good in the project.
"For those that will never see anything good in this administration, they should have a rethink and give us that chance and let us see what we would be able to make out of this. Maybe before, I had a different view that is why I told you I\'m now better informed. We only covered four farms. In fact I felt tired and said we should go back. What I have seen now is beyond 419 project,\" Adeyemi admitted.
He, however, urged the firm to speed up work at the sites and complete work on schedule to douse the insinuations and negative comments from government detractors who regard the project as grandiose.