Olam has launched a gigantic poultry facility in Kaduna State with great potential for agricultural revolution, writes John Shiklam
â€œFror the benefit of residents of Kaduna State and Nigerians at large, I hereby commission this project to the glory of God,â€ President Muhammadu Buhari said on Tuesday as he cut the tape to mark the formal commencement of business at Olamâ€™s Integrated Feed Mill, Hatchery and Breeder Farm in Kaduna. Thousands of people from different parts of Kaduna and neighbouring states came to witness the launch of the historic project, which has been described as the biggest integrated poultry farm in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Hundreds of people, mostly youths and women from Chikpiri Gabas village, the companyâ€™s host community, along the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway, 25 kilometres away from Kaduna city. They are apparently the greatest beneficiaries of the project, being members of the host community.
According to Sa Gbagi, a second class traditional ruler whose jurisdiction extends to the community, the location of the company will pull many families out of poverty and bring about prosperity in the community. The investment is a big boost to the economy of Kaduna State, considering its multiplier effect in job creation and economic empowerment, especially for the youth. Although they were barred from entering the premises by heavily armed security personnel, many of the youths climbed trees and trucks parked by the roadside to catch a glimpse of the ceremony.
The facility is said to be the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa, occupying an 825 hectares of land, freely provided by the Kaduna State government.
Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai disclosed that N500 million was spent by the state government for payment of compensations to the rural land owners. The facility comprises hatchery, poultry farm, feed mill factory, and soybeans farm. It has a production capacity of 50 metric tons per hour and has five silos with storage capacity of 10 metric tons each. Five more silos are to be built in the next phase to have a total storage capacity of 100,000 metric tons.
The facility also has two warehouses with storing capacity of about 8, 000 metric tons of raw materials. It has 15 farms, each housing 50,000 birds.
On an annual basis, the facility is expected to process 180,000 tons of corn; 75,000 tons of soybeans; and 360,000 tons of animal feed; while 1.6 million day old chicks would be produced weekly.
Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Integrated Feed Mill, KC Suresh, said during the ceremony that the company desired to help Nigeria transform the agricultural sector to self-sufficiency.
â€œWe stand now on the site of Nigeriaâ€™s largest integrated animal feed mill, poultry breeding farm and hatchery. With the government and the community as our partners, it is our ambition that this new investment will help Nigeria meet its ever-growing demand for high quality animal protein,â€ Suresh said.
He said the state-of-the-art poultry farms were operated with the latest techniques in biosecurity and at full capacity and will supply 1.6 million day-old-chicks every week. This, according to him, will help Nigerian farmers produce an extra eight billion eggs and 100 million kilogrammes of poultry meat a year. He said the facilities will also have a wider positive impact on the national economy and will help save US$150 million in foreign exchange.
Suresh disclosed that the company will be working with more than 10,000 Nigerian farmers to train them on best practices for poultry farming. â€œThe ripple effect from our poultry initiatives could stimulate a further 150,000 to 200,000 employment opportunities for young people in rural villages and towns,â€ he said.
Moreover, according to him, Olamâ€™s animal feed and protein operations are directly creating up to 6, 000 new local jobs, many in highly skilled roles, such as veterinarians and aquaculture technicians.
â€œBesides, the company is also sourcing the bulk of raw materials for its animal feed mills, including soybeans, corn and cassava, from more than 300,000 Nigerian smallholder crop farmers,â€ he stated.
Suresh disclosed further that Olam was working with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, and had already planted 220 hectares of soybean seed farms at the Kaduna site. He added that by next year the company would be offering these seeds to the local farmers to boost their yields.
While applauding Olam for the huge investment, Buhari said agriculture remained the most viable and all-encompassing option for the diversification of the countryâ€™s economy.
Although the president left for Abuja immediately after cutting the tape to attend a state function, his address was read on his behalf by the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe.
The president urged Nigerians, especially the youth, to embrace farming. He described the investment as a symbol of national growth and stability of the nation, adding that apart from boosting food production, it will help to reduce crime and rural-urban migration through job creation.
He noted that Olam was thoroughly Nigerian, stressing that since its incorporation in the country in 1989, it had extended its operation across the country.
â€œI would like to acknowledge their investments in the country,â€ Buhari said.
Narrating how he persuaded Olam to invest in Kaduna, El-Rufai said it all started in 2015 when he held a meeting with officials of the company in Singapore.
â€œOur September 2015 meetings with Olam in Singapore produced a meeting of minds, and the company made a firm decision to invest further in Nigeria and in Kaduna State,â€ he recalled.
On April 8, 2016, a day after the first edition of the Kaduna Economic and Investment Summit (KADInvest), the ground-breaking ceremony for the project was performed.
The governor noted that the project was a significant milestone for Kaduna State and Nigeria, especially in the quest for food security and economic diversification through agriculture.
El-Rufai said agriculture and mining were top priority investment sectors in the state, stressing that Kaduna has comparative advantage in these two sectors.
â€œFor instance, our farmers are the leading producers of ginger, maize and soybeans in this country. We are close second in the production of sorghum, beans, tomatoes, chilli peppers and potatoes. Kaduna state is blessed with vast arable land, immense water resources and farmers who know how to farm, limited only by their small holdings,â€ the governor said.
According to him, Olam is the largest single foreign direct investor in Kaduna State in decades. He stressed that in addition to creating thousands of direct jobs, it will also create many more indirect jobs as it will outsource its grain supplies to farmers as well as create a ready source of day-old chicks to smaller poultry farmers.
The governor said, â€œIn many ways, the Olam project is also a major investment by the Kaduna State government. In the competition for investments, we must offer a superior proposition if we are to win.
â€œKaduna State provided this land free of charge to Olam, carrying the burden of paying nearly N500 million in compensation to customary title holders in the clear belief that such is a worthwhile expense for the benefit of our people.â€
He disclosed further that alongside the Olam facility, the state was developing a Green Economic Zone in partnership with Skipper Seill of India, which will accommodate other agribusinesses, including the OCP Centre of Agricultural Excellence (Morocco), Flour Mills Fertilizer Blending Plant (Nigeria) and the Mahindra Tractor Manufacturing Plant (India), all powered by clean solar energy, with gas turbines as back-up to be provided by Greenwich Energy of France and Greenville Oil and Gas (Nigeria).
The governor said, â€œBy the grace of God, this Olam facility is the seed that will flower the emergence of a major agro-industrial hub here in Kaduna State.
â€œOur commitment to make Kaduna an investment destination of choice is backed up by policies and laws that make it easy for investors to set up and operate in Kaduna. We want all investors seeking to do business in the state to know that our commitment to every investor is bound by a signed document called the â€˜Ease of Doing Business Charterâ€™, which outlines what the government of Kaduna State will deliver within the timeframe stipulated in the charter.
â€œOur investment policies in Kaduna have eliminated the bureaucratic difficulties discouraging business and reduced the cost and time required to get approvals of any nature.
â€œWe are encouraged by the sheer number of businesses that have shown commitment to invest in our state since we launched these initiatives.â€
El-Rufai added, â€œWe hope that in no distant time we will commission more agro-businesses, like Vicampro that will process potatoes produced in Kaduna and Plateau states into French fries in Manchok, Kaura local government, and others like Dangote and Olam that will cultivate and process tomatoes in Kubau and Ikara local governments in the northern part of the state.â€