By Ebikiseiye Thompson, Abuja
As Nigeria grapples with high importation of poultry products running into billions of Naira annually including smuggling of unwholesome products, two renowned organizations in the agricultural sector, the University of Benin and Unigold Food Limited, weekend, signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, to establish a 50 million per annum broiler/chicken production, processing and packaging poultry facility.
According to the organizations the MoU is under a Public-Private Partnership, PPP, arrangement under the University-Based Poultry Product Programme, UBPRP, with the objective of meeting the huge demand of poultry products, which also is to make Nigeria poultry products exporting giant by 2030.
They also commended the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele, for the initiative of the programme to boost production, create jobs and also attract potential investors.
They also expressed hope that it will expand to other universities across the country, and Nigeria will emerge Africa’s poultry products hub by 2030.
In her remarks, the Vice-Chancellor of Uniben, Prof Lilian Salami, expressed joy over the partnership with Unigold Foods Ltd, because the MoU signed includes establishing a Special Purpose Vehicle, SPV, called United Poultry And Food Company Nigeria Ltd, which will be a national company that will play a key role in the agro-based business space.
According to Salami apart from being a profitable business, it will create jobs for staff, students and thousands of youths including skill acquisition in the poultry industry.
The VC also made it know that the institution will utilize it over 40 years research and development materials to facilitate high-level production by the SPV along with professionalism and experience of Unigold Foods Ltd that would lead to a reduction in the cost of production, fast-grow out times of birds and boost of the value chains.
Also speaking was the Executive Director, Unigold Foods Ltd, Sir Tony Alile, lauded the Vice-Chancellor, UniBen, Prof Lilian Salami and her team for collaborating with Unigold Foods to establish a Special Purpose Vehicle, SPV, company, United Poultry and Food Company Nigeria Limited, for the interests of both organizations as public and private partners.
Alile also added that public institutions should not run businesses but rather focus on the research and development needed to make partnerships a success.
A senior officer of the company who is also the Chief Operating Officer, Richard Obiorah, made it known that the project is a multi-billion Naira venture project.
Obiorah also explained that with the establishment of the United Poultry And Food Company Nigeria Ltd as contained in the MoU is to be a fully functional vertical integrated poultry production company that will be at full operating capacity by 2022 with an annual output of 50 million broilers.
“That the Management of the University of Benin, especially the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Lilian Salami, must be applauded as she has provided enough land from the thousands of hectares of land owned by the University that will make it possible to create a poultry city that will have its own industrial-scale breeder farms, capacity to produce and hatch 2million day-old chicks on a weekly basis, fully automated processing and packaging plants and an industrial feed mill producing affordable feed for the company and the public at large.
“Nigeria poultry industry is not competitive and is too expensive, hence the reason why consumers buy smuggled poultry which is cheaper, but with the coming of this project and also keying into CBN’s poultry initiatives under the University-Based Poultry Programme, in less than five years the issue of smuggling poultry products into Nigeria which has been happening since 2003 will become a thing of the past.
“The time of complaining has to stop and innovative private companies such as Unigold Foods has seen the merits of what we call the ‘Emefiele Plan for the Poultry Industry’ and are simply joining forces with a great institution like the University of Benin which has more than 35 years experience producing poultry products and taking it to a much higher industrial level.
“In all sincerity, we believe that this partnership will create the largest poultry production company in Africa by 2030 for a variety of reasons but chief amongst which is based on economies of scale we are already sure of producing our broiler birds at 10 per cent lower cost than what prevails in South Africa.
“And for the purpose of clarity broiler production cost in South Africa is the 6th lowest in the world, the broilers produced by United Poultry will meet all the requirements of Nigerian customers as to quality, availability and low cost”, he said.