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‘Converting farm wastes reduces production cost’

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Femi Akinwale

Managing Director of AgroVet Nigeria Ltd, Mr Femi Akinwale, shares his experience on what farmers can do to break even, remain in business and expand operations. FEMI IBIROGBA presents excerpts.

How has farmers/herders crisis affected cost of producing animal feeds?

The problem affects everybody in Nigeria and the point around it is that we have not been able to fashion out an effective way of rearing animals without moving them from one place to the other.

In other parts of the world, animals are not reared openly. Moving around is neither good for humans nor animals.

How has the crisis affected food and animal feeds production?

Farmers have been displaced and cannot cultivate crops.

Many farmlands have closed operations in the affected places, because of fear of being attacked.

It has affected production of raw materials used in poultry and fish feeds.

Such materials include maize. Price of maize has gone up and this affects the cost of feeding poultry and fish. This reduces profit of the farmers.

Egg gluts have always resurfaced. As an animal scientist and businessman, what do you think is the way forward?  

Tracing the problems, I find out that one of the major challenges is marketing of poultry products.

Farmers have not been planning how to market their products.

Everybody wants to produce but almost none has a marketing plan.

At times you see a poultry farmer having 50,000 laying birds without a plan on marketing.

Such a farmer will have challenges marketing the eggs. If this is so, producers will become victims of greedy middlemen.
 
Most of the times, we also have artificial gluts. These middlemen come together, refrain from buying eggs for a number of days or weeks, and tactically force farmers to sell at a loss.

What do you think about egg powder production?

EGG conversion to powder is a very good idea because eggs may be preserved in another form, and sold with good value without the fear of getting spoilt.

However, we have to look critically at the requirements of egg powder production.

Eggs meant for powder must be free of residues of antibiotics. Many farmers may not meet this requirement.

However, with collaboration of the government and the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), farmers can be educated to meet up.

Though all farmers may not meet this condition, those who will meet it constitute a plus to the sector and can help in resolving the challenge of egg glut.

Do you think egg powder machines should be facilitated to PAN to this end?

Yes. This is good idea. You know that commercial egg powder equipment could be too capital intensive for individual farmers or PAN just like standard rice mills.

So the government should collaborate with PAN and other private investors to explore this.

You have always advocated integrated farming. How do you mean?

It is a situation where a farmer engages in related but different farming activities to reduce cost, avoid wastage and increase profitability.

If you are a poultry farmer raising broilers, you can also have a fish farm.

Intestines from processed poultry could be boiled and used to supplement protein requirement of fish.

This reduces cost of feeding the fish. It can also be given to pigs.

Compost manure from a broiler farm can be used to produce crops such as maize, and the maize is used in feed formulation for the birds.
   
Another good example is the hatchery business. Wastes are generated from hatchery activities.

Such wastes are infertile eggs, chick mortalities and shell.

All could be used in pig and fish feeds. Farming should be seen this way; where your waste is converted into economic uses. 

In your views, what can the government do to assist farmers?

We are calling on the government to assist farmers in Nigeria in many ways.

We advocate the revival of the extension services to take research products and technologies from universities and agric colleges to farmers.

This will make farmers do their businesses with precision and succeed.

What is your company putting on the table for farmers in the livestock industry?
 
We are teaching farmers what to do, how to do it and get it right.

This will boost their agric businesses and make them profitable and hence, sustainable.


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