Shonga Holdings, a conglomerate of Commercial farms, initiated by the present administration of Governor Bukola Saraki in kwara state under the Public Private Partnership[PPP] initiativeÂ has added another feather to its cap with the commencement of processed chicken at Shonga FarmsÂ in Edu local government of Kwara state .
When journalistsÂ visited the place very recently, the available equipments, the environmentÂ and the technical know how are second to none comparable to any other high tech chicken processing factory in the sub sahara west Africa.
The farmsâ€™ poultry section now has chickens processing factory even as the factory is set to produce, a minimum of 7,500 processed chickens meant for the consumption of Ilorin residents, Kwara state at large and for residents in other parts of the country.
TheÂ leader and head of operation of the factoryÂ Mr Piet Dutoit, told journalistsÂ that the plant was currently on 2,500 processed frozen chickens per day, pointing out that when it becomes fully operational has capacity to step â€“up to 10,000 chickens per day.
He said the farm has so far engaged the services of 42 workers who were all natives of the host community, adding that more hands would still be required as the farm expanded.
While expressing optimism on market for the factoryâ€™s productÂ Detoit assured that the immediate local market would be adequately catered for as well as the immediate environment and all those who have shown interest in its products.
The head of the farm however disclosed that commercial partners from the south-east and south-south geo-political zones of the country had already signified interest in doing business with the farm as distributors, stating that the International Market has been placed on the waiting list in other to satisfied the local market first.
Also speaking in an interview with pressmen, the General Manager of the plant, Morne Vandernerwe speakingÂ on the target consumers of the processed chickensÂ emphasized that â€œthe products of the plant is not meant for export.
A lot of legislation is attached to exportation. The internal demand in the country has been very phenomenal. Therefore, the local market is our target audience. We will focus on Ilorin and the whole of Kwara state before we think about other states. Though, we cannot totally ignore exportation but that will be in some years to come.â€
Morne Vandernerwe however noted that it has not been all bed of roses as the company just like any fledgling firm reeks under the heavy hammer of some seemingly insurmountable challenges.
According to him,â€œUnfortunately, money is my major challenge. We need operating capital that include couple of millions of Naira I need packaging materials. They are not available locally. The first batch of 20,000 birds is in the region of N2.2million. Everything here costs moneyâ€™â€™.
â€œThe other thing is manpower training. You donâ€™t expect local employees to take on the speed of big processing chickens factory overnight. They have to be taught, shown and physically trained before they can do the job right.â€he stressed.
He said already, the poultry plant slaughtered recently about 2500 birds, stressing that â€œfor the time being we have got four partners in the project. Each also has one fully operational chicken house, each house also has the capacity to house 25,000 chickens. Three chicken houses per farm is our target. The equipment for those houses have been shipped into the country. Ultimately, we hope to have 400,000 bitrds in the four farms.â€
The poultry farmer said that his target in the â€œfirst phase is the production of 2500 chickens per day, afterwards I want to increase the capacity to 5000 then to 7,500 the capacity that the current plant has got. After which we will increase the cooling of the plant and then increase production to 10,000 daily.â€
He also said that his target market for now is Ilorin, environs and the state in general, adding that â€œwe have got marketing assistance based in Ilorin.â€
In a bid to expand the commercial base of the products, he said â€œWe have signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) with some promo food in northern, south-south and south-west regions of Nigeria. Obviously, this is a new enterprise but a lot of people still want to come to the table. We will be having a self-distribution of the productsâ€™â€™.
â€œUnfortunately, our buyers are predominantly people demanding to buy either one or two kilos, but we are out to sell at whole rate. Incidentally, the various states chambers of industry, mines and agriculture in the country have shown massive interest in our products. They want to sign MoU with for distribution with us. Soprite and KFC foods want to do business with us. For us that is good news because that is a big money.
â€œEven the state chairman of fast food and catering association of Nigeria has disclosed the associationâ€™s willingness to partner with us. When we become up and kicking we will also join the poultry association of Nigeria.â€
During,the recent tour of Governor Bukola Saraki to the farms he expressed satisfaction with what the processing factory had been able to achieve within the short period of commencement of production.
The governor commended the operators for using modern and latest technology, and described the development as a practical demonstration of using agriculture and agro-allied to drive the economy.
According to him, â€œwith the success story of Shonga farm and the dairy factory as well as the coming on board of the new chicken processing factory, am very optimistic that agriculture was capable of diversifying the economy, thereby reducing the countryâ€™s over dependency on oil. This is a proof that it can be done and a challenge to other parts of the country,â€ the governor said.
Governor Saraki speakingÂ on the multiplier effect of the poultry farm on the economy, corroborated the general manager that processed chickens from the farm would be supplied to household, retail shops, and super market in Ilorin and by extension Kwara state.HeÂ enjoined â€œother states of the federation to emulate kwara state in its drive towards agriculture.