By Jimoh Babatunde
WHEN Olam announced its commitment of over US$100 million (approximately N20 billion) to building the largest integrated animal feed mill, breeding farms and hatchery in Kaduna early this year, not many thought that will become a reality so soon.
The integrated poultry farm and animal feed mill expected to produce over one million high-quality layers (for eggs) and broilers (for meat) weekly will be commissioned this month.
Conducting journalists round the state-of-the-art animal feed mill, poultry breeding farms and hatchery last week, Business Head, Animal Protein, Dr. Vinod Mishra, Olam Grains, stated that the feed mill would be supplying local farmers with about 360,000 metric tonnes per year of competitively priced and specially formulated poultry feed.
The firm, according to him, sources about 180,000 metric tonnes of corn and 75,000 metric tonnes of soybeans from local farmers in Kaduna. He added that when commissioned, the hatchery would have the capacity to produce four billion eggs and 100 million kilogrammes of poultry meat annually and also employ about 600 workers directly and 400,000 workers indirectly.
Per capita consumption
He said, “We want to increase the per capita consumption of eggs from the current 80 to about 120 by 2020 at an affordable price to consumers. This we believe is part of contributing our own quota in ensuring that Nigerians get easy and affordable access to quality nutrition. We are supporting Nigeria’s agricultural transformation agenda by producing quality chicken that can compete with imported products in the domestic market.”
Mishra added that making the country self sufficient in meat production can save $150-200 million per year in foreign exchange. While noting that high quality source of protein is guaranteed for Nigerians, he said there will be strict adherence to rigorous international benchmark for quality and safety.
According to him, the 50,000 metric tonnes of on-site storage, in addition to a similar capacity of outsourced storage, will support food security and price stabilisation for farmers, adding, “This will be spurring the domestic poultry feed crop production as the company will be buying soybeans from more than 200,000 smallholder farmers who produce approximately 200,000 metric tonnes.”
He said this will be helping soybeans farmers to increase their income due to Olam’s global market access as they export over 100000 metric tonnes of soybeans to Europe annually.
Mishra said while they plan to develop an agronomy programme that will increase local soybeans production from 0.5 metric tonnes to two million metric tonnes over the next five years that training on farming practices will be offered to farmers.
He said that local farmers were receiving training in poultry best practices through the firm’s 20 field veterinarians while 60 veterinarians from top 10 Nigerian colleges were on a two-year in-house internship, adding, “We have a pilot programme for modern cluster poultry farms as each cluster will be collectively owned by 20-30 farmers and with Olam support employ 250-300 people directly.”
Mishra said the firm’s total investment in Nigeria, including working capital had exceeded $1bn across its various businesses, adding that in line with the Federal Government’s agricultural agenda, the firm had developed a 10,000 hectares rice farm and fully integrated mill in Nasarawa State, supported by an out-grower programme.
Recall that during the groundbreaking ceremony in April, Olam’s CEO for Africa, Mr. Venkataramani Srivathsan, said “This new venture into animal feed is a win-win for Olam and Nigeria. Domestically produced meat is being hampered by a lack of good quality feed, support for farmers and availability of young stock, but consumption is set to increase.
“By investing in poultry and fish feed, we can utilise the wheat bran from our wheat milling operations, as well as maximise our sourcing networks to buy corn and soy from local farmers. Our investment in the hatchery will help boost poultry production and, in the long run, help reduce the country’s reliance on imports. This development underlines the continued confidence we share in Nigeria’s ambition for self-sufficiency.
At full capacity,the Kaduna facility will be supplying mainly to the Northern markets.