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Developing Local Agriculture Using School Feed Programme

By Fabian Odum, Lagos and Abba Anwar, Kano
28 February 2016   |   6:13 am
IN the plan to introduce the national School Feeding Programme, the Federal Government intends to enhance school enrolment, malnutrition and tackle stunted growth among school children.

School-Feeding• Could Enhance Job Creation, Generate More Income
• 4.3Billion Eggs, 4.3Billion Oranges Required
IN the plan to introduce the national School Feeding Programme, the Federal Government intends to enhance school enrolment, malnutrition and tackle stunted growth among school children.

No matter the reasons being advanced for getting the feeding programme to assume a national dimension as the President Buhari and the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC) propose, the fact remains that small and medium scale farmers would be the ultimate gainers.

This would be especially the case, if the type of meals to be introduced would encourage large supply of local agricultural produce nationwide.

Recently, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo told participants at the 45th Annual Accounting Conference of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) that the school feeding project would attract N980 billion investments in its various dimensions, and gulping up to 530,000 metric tonnes of food from the farm every year.

Statistics drawn from the ‘Roadmap for Nigerian Education Sector’ reveal that there are 54,434 public primary schools in the country, and about 24,422,918 pupils (a figure that is ever increasing with population growth). If the project covers students in public junior secondary schools, about 3,266,780 students would be added.

The implication of this number is manifold; from the egg side of the feed programme alone, it would bring a revolution in the number of and output from hatcheries for production of layer birds. Evidently, also from seed (maize, groundnut, soybean) and farm production to bone meal and vitamin supplements as well as veterinary drugs, the snowball effect would be very positive to the economy.

The Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) projects that the poultry industry has the capacity of generating about a trillion Naira per year, if it gets the required support from both the government and other publics.

Its national President, Dr. Ayoola Oduntan said the fallout of that would mean reduced unemployment, hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition.

Stakeholders have implored the Federal Government to pursue the programme and make adequate budgetary provision to lift it off the ground. It is widely accepted that with such financial releases, the nation’s agricultural production and its numerous value chains would also get major boost to impact the economy positively.

With an assumption of one eggs a day for 24 million public primary school children, about 4.3billion eggs are needed to be produced each school year.

Making an extrapolation from the figures released by the PAN President that one billion eggs per annum would be valued at approximately N220billion, therefore 4.3billion eggs would be valued at N946billion, besides what is consumed by adults.

Relevant statistics show that Nigeria’s egg production is about 636,000 tonnes between 2000 and 2011 at an average annual growth of more than four per cent. A projected increase by 2.6 billion eggs or 215,000 tonnes from the feeding programme would certainly be a shot in the arm for the industry and the economy at large.

Industry sources say the Nigerian poultry industry seeks government assistance to establish egg-processing plants to help preservation for a perishable commodity in times of glut. It would also improve the availability of egg products that could be used as raw material in noodles and confectionery.

In the event that the children would eat an orange per day as dessert and vitamin source, suppliers or farmers’ cooperatives would provide about 4.3 billion million oranges for the school year nationwide.

Where it becomes necessary to preserve the oranges by processing into juice, it will likely take five times or 21.5 billion oranges to pass through the fruit processing plants to extract sufficient quantities for bottling.

If the children would have a meal that contains pawpaw as sweet, and assuming a medium-size pawpaw would be shared among six children, the farmers’ cooperative or suppliers would source about six million pawpaw fruits daily or 30 million in a five-day school week or 120 million monthly. A billion paw paw fruits would be required nationwide and the impact in the horticultural value chain would be immense. Due to the perishability of the fruits, and even other food items, preservation through food processing would trigger the setting up of several cottage and small and medium scale plants.

Fabricators of equipment for the cottage industries, like is found in India would be engaged and more hands would be employed both on the mechanical fabrication side of the business and processing (chemists, food technologists, biochemists, etc) end of it.

Kaduna: school feeding and more eggs
FEW weeks into the commencement of the school feeding programme of Kaduna State government, there is need for additional two million eggs weekly to cater for the pupils benefiting from the exercise.

Kaduna State Commissioner for Agriculture and Forestry, Manzo Maigari Daniel told The Guardian that about 1.8m pupils are being fed in the programme. He revealed that farmers supply about a million eggs weekly.  However, the weekly requirement of eggs is 1.2m, so there is already a gap of 200,000 eggs weekly, he said.

Beyond poultry eggs, demand for vegetables, rice and other requirements for the meal have gone up, according to the Commissioner. Though it appears a big challenge, progress is being made few weeks after the launch of the programme, according to Manzo.

“We require about 360 metric tonnes of rice weekly.  And that boosts the train of food supply. I am persuaded to believe that very soon other states will copy from us. It is an exercise worthy of emulation,” he stated.

Expectedly, the programme largely depends on efficient management and the availability of produce from the farmers. The Kaduna State Commissioner explained that, “We organise everything on the platform of cooperatives from where our vendors are picked, like the vegetables cooperatives, grains cooperatives, poultry cooperatives and fish cooperatives. “

Obviously, the trickle-down effect is beginning to be manifest. As funding challenge would always crop up, farmers would need that to be in business and eventually expand to meet demand, Kaduna State government is working with one of the banks to access agricultural credit, especially from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

He observed that they envisaged that if they did not do something deliberate, six months to one year down the programme, they would run into problem because of the possibility of scarcity that would be caused by the feeding programme.

Manzo noted that, “The responses we are getting from farmers are very good and encouraging. You know that naturally our farmers have issues of capacity in terms of funding. And now there is window for funding. “

He assured that they have been discussing with the Poultry Association of Nigeria through their cooperatives. Stressing that they were also already in the process of screening farmers, coupled with the Needs Assessment on their farms. This is to know what exactly the form of intervention they require.

The Agriculture commissioner added that, “When the arrangement is concluded they will be ready to produce.  But the unfortunate thing is, most of them depend on rainy season farming. So we have to see ways of augmenting production through irrigation, dry season farming. “

According to him government would not relent in the programme of school feeding. As such, he said they were working seriously to sustain it.

Manzo shed more light on the composition of the Technical Committee for School Feeding Programme as ministries of Agriculture, Health, Education and Finance and a representative from the Ministry of Environment.
“We do all that is required to train vendors on identifying quality seeds from onset for food ingredients, so as to ensure quality and health,” he said.

In Kano, another entry
THE Kano State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna said the government, for now, is offering the children an egg per day, per child.

“Ours is one child, one egg. This will further improve poultry farming in the state. Our farmers are also cooperating to make our desired goals achievable,” Gawuna said.

Local rice and other local food are being served and farmers are usually assisted to be able to keep up with the demand from the programme. This way, he said farm production is given the needed boost, while level of income is raised for these farmers.

Rice is a very important meal of the children, but the commissioner revealed its production in the state is done “in tandem with Federal Government policy of stopping rice importation soon.”

Management matrix, the Osun Example
THE famed Osun Elementary School Feeding and Health Programme, OMeals may have had some hiccup, mainly the funding challenge, but it left things from which to learn. In 2012, the Governor Aregbesola government revamped and rebranded what was left of it by the administration of Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola.

Chief Executive Officer, Spectra Industries Limited, Duro Kuteyi, a strong advocate of use of local agricultural produce in pursuing the school feed programme, said cocoa beverages were served as part of the meal in the former Governor Oyinlola days.

He said Cocoa Industries was part of the arrangement supplying processed cocoa as base for manufacturing the beverage for the school meal.

In using cocoa powder, the benefit would be felt by local cocoa farmers in the cocoa growing belt of the country.
The Osun school feed project was re-designed to cater for 254,000 students after including pupils from Primary 4 and resting on about 3,000 caterers.

The O-Meals looked at capacity development and empowerment of Community caterers, backwards integration to local markets and process improvements, aside increasing the benefiting number of school children.

At the time, the Osun government advocated the use of biometrics at registration to capture the beneficiaries, prevent corruption and promote transparency.

Increasing the daily feeding allowance from N50 to N250 per child brought the cost to N63.5 million or N11.4 billion annually, a substantial part of which returns directly or indirectly to the farms.

Stakeholders have implored the Federal Government to pursue the programme and make adequate budgetary provision to lift it off the ground. It is widely accepted that with such financial releases, the nation’s agricultural production and its numerous value chains would also get major boost to impact the economy positively.
Employment generation fallout

It is given that for the feed programme to be fully executed on the egg side, about 2.6 billion eggs are needed, which is far beyond the present output of the poultry farms.

Based on this, an Ibdan–based young entrepreneur said the scenario could raise many small-scale hatcheries that can put many young people to work. He said setting up a hatchery to produce day-old chicks could be done with about N8 million, with output of 10,000 chicks weekly, and staff of 8-10 persons; such would create opportunities in different parts of the country.

It could trigger the setting up of 9,000 small-scale hatcheries to produce enough layers to deliver 2.9bn chicks ready to start laying eggs at 22weeks old. That would also offer about 100,000 jobs from the hatcheries.

On the other hand, Kuteyi said the feed programme could be supported deploying cluster processing centres to produce meals that are made from local produce like sorghum, millet, cowpea and the like.

To compound a high quality snack consisting of local stuff would provide research opportunities for food industries and food science and technology departments of tertiary institutions to provide appealing, tasty and product of good shelf life, he said. It would ultimately come to a win-win situation for stakeholders.