By James Emejo
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has so far released N12.55 billion to support the small, medium and large scale poultry farmers.
The CBN explained that the gesture is part of its strategy to boost egg and meat production as well as to create more jobs for Nigerians.
Last month, some stakeholders under the umbrella of Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) had called on the federal government to intervene in the sector to mitigate the losses occasioned by the restriction of movement of goods and services amidst the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the attendant lockdown.
President of the association, Mr. Ezekiel Ibrahim, while addressing journalists had raised concerns that unless there was an urgent government intervention, the industry might be forced to shut down by January.
The association also said the current situation had threatened about 10 million jobs, especially at the urban and rural areas and led to divestment in the poultry sector due to lack of investor confidence.
However, CBN Director, Development Finance Department, Mr. Yila Yusuf, in a statement yesterday, said the disbursement of funds to farmers was an ongoing process as more farmers are being shortlisted for the loan.
According to him, between the last quarter of 2019 and November 2020, farmers in the poultry value chain had received a total of N12, 555,000,000 from various commercial banks and the NIRSAL Microfinance Bank.
The CBN listed the large-scale companies that benefited from its intervention programmes to include Fortune Heights and Animal Care, both in Ogun State; Dasco Engineering in Lagos, Olam Hatcheries in Kaduna, Eastern Plains in Anambra State and Emmpek Farms in Delta State.
Other beneficiaries listed under the Agri-Business/Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS) window included Elabi Farms in Bayelsa and Aladeyelu Farms in Ondo.
Giving a further breakdown of the disbursements, the CBN stated that 639 poultry farmers that applied through the regular AGSMEIS window had also received funds as Autonomous Poultry Farmers, through NIRSAL MFB, to the tune of N1.99 billion.
Similarly, N1.59 billion has also been disbursed to 898 poultry farmers nationwide to ameliorate the impact of COVID-19 on their operations.
Yusuf said an additional fund will be disbursed to poultry farmers before the end of 2020 to guarantee, among other objectives, improved affordability and accessibility of eggs, broiler meat and day-old-chicks; assured market for egg-producers through off-take; employment creation for existing and new poultry farmers and improved protein intake for Nigerians.
The CBN had in 2019 hosted 12 universities from six geopolitical zones to partner with them in a pilot scheme known as university-based Poultry Revival Programme. The scheme is aimed at further addressing the demand gap and unlocking the potential of Nigerian poultry producers, through the involvement of universities.
Meanwhile, some large-scale poultry farmers who had benefited from the intervention schemes of the CBN have continued to commend the bank’s intervention in the sector.
Chief Executives of Premium Farms, Mr. Mashey Rasheed, and Amo Byng Nigeria Limited, Dr. Ayoola Oduntan, both urged other players to embrace the interventions by the CBN in order to enhance job creation opportunities in Nigeria.
They expressed confidence that post-COVID-19, the poultry sector will