James Emejo in Abuja
The National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) has inaugurated a modern abattoir and meat factory in, Gwagwalada, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), in a bold initiative aimed at reducing the country’s meat importation bill which is valued at over $400 million annually.
The project is an initiative of the traders’ body in partnership with ECOWAS and Swiss Cooperation as well as the West African Institute for Agricultural Trade and Development (WAITAD) and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, which provided technical support.
The integrated meat facility project which benefited from a grant of $275,000 from ECOWAS and an investment of about $150,000 from NANTS is anchored on the development of an innovative investment model that gradually transforms into a profitable and job-creating business for young men and women with attractive returns on investment capable of self-financing and ensuring its sustainability.
Speaking at the inauguration, President, NANTS, Mr. Ken Ukaoha, decried a development where the diplomatic community in Nigeria as well as other Nigerians spent over $400 million on meat importation annually simply because they do not think that meat in domestic abattoirs is hygienic.
He said this was part of the triggers for the establishment of the modern facility to address these concerns and stimulate patronage thereby saving the country the scarce foreign exchange as well as creating jobs for the teeming youthful population.
Ukaoha said the project was particularly important given the environmental state of the country’s abattoirs which made it unattractive to both government and private investments.
Among other things, he said the new abattoir boasts of a lairage where animals are kept in a decent manner, and taken care of before they are slaughtered – making sure they’re healthy.
He said even after slaughtering efforts are made in order to ensure that the meat is healthy for eating.
Among other things, the facility is equipped with processing and packaging units, a cold room, a management office, and a training center where butchers will be trained.
He said, “I want to close by thanking ECOWAS once again for trusting and believing in us. What has been done here will now be replicated by NANTS in other sister countries of ECOWAS.”
ECOWAS Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture, Madam Massandje Toure-Litse, who launched the facility, said the livestock sector offered a huge economic potential amid various challenges in member states.