MINA Blog- The University of Ilorin (UNILORIN) in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has inaugurated an integrated commercial poultry farm with a N600 million loan.
Prof. Sulyman Abdulkareem, the Vice Chancellor of the university, who spoke at the official inauguration of the project at Amoyo community in the Ifelodun local government area of Kwara, said that the poultry farm was expected to contribute to food security in Nigeria.
The vice chancellor said that the project would help to bridge the wide gap between the demand for poultry products and the supply caused largely by the ban on importation of poultry products.
He said that the poultry farm would make university have a huge leap in its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), “making money available for critical aspects of the university’s operations, especially in the areas of research and physical development.
“Our research efforts will also be boosted by the farm as it represents a veritable laboratory for the students and the staff.
“The students are also made to see first-hand the entrepreneurial side of what they are taught in the classroom, re-orientating them to a mind-set of creators of employment in the agribusiness sector as agripreneur as against that of the white-collar jobs-seeking graduates.
“The journey has been long and hard for us as a university. The university took a N600 million loan from the CBN at a concessionary interest rate of nine per cent and (five per cent on the first one year).
“There will be a repayment period of six years with a moratorium on the repayment of the principal for one year,” he said.
According to him, Zenith Bank PLC is the Participating Financial Institution (PFI) on this project.
“Accessing the loan required the university to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the project. The SPV is UNILORIN Bizface synergy Ltd., a limited liability company registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
“At the height of construction, the site had over 200 artisans earning their daily sustenance from it.
“Today, the farm has 55 fulltime employees and has created space for our students to work on part-time basis as they study,” he said.
Abdulkareem said that the university had also set aside the N5 million for an out-grower programme for the students of agriculture, veterinary medicine and allied courses in the Faculty of Education.
He said that to date, these had been the modest contribution to generating employment and lightening up the local economy from the university.
“This project has reverberating effects. As part of the backward integration, the university is developing a 2,000-hectare land for maize and soya beans cultivation for exclusive use on the poultry farm.
“Another backward integration planned is the establishment of its own hatchery. As a forward integration, we are planning to establish an egg-powder production facility.
“In all that we have done so far and what we plan to do, we have kept faith with our Total Land Use (TLU) policy that has been our abiding principle from day one of my administration,” he said.
Dr Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor said that in spite of the fact that Nigeria is the largest producer of eggs and the second largest producer of chicken meat in Africa, demand gap for eggs and meat stood and outstripped current supply by 1.2million metric tonnes and 140,000metric tonnes for meat and eggs respectively.
The CBN governor, who was represented by Mr Ayila Yusuf, the Director, Development Finance, said that the demand gap had driven smuggling of unhealthy frozen chicken into the country.
“Over the years, this demand gap has driven the smuggling of unhealthy frozen chicken into the country.
“To close this gap, the Central Bank of Nigeria has introduced various intervention schemes focused on boosting poultry production, creating decent jobs, fostering innovation in the poultry sub sector.
“One of such schemes is the Tertiary Institutions Poultry Revival Scheme that was conceptualised, specifically for tertiary institutions to design and implement viable poultry projects.
“Presently, over 40 tertiary institutions have expressed interest in the scheme through different commercial banks to implement various projects,” he said.
Emefiele said that such deep broad interest by Nigerian tertiary institutions would definitely culminate in sustainable development of the Nigerian Poultry industry.
He enjoined other tertiary institutions to key into the scheme in order at the broad-based benefits are realised for all.