Kaduna – The successful completion of training of over 200 women and youths from the Niger Delta region in poultry and fish farming entrepreneurial skills by the Federal Government will no doubt serve as a momentum towards growing the Nigerian poultry and aquaculture industry as well as significantly contribute to the overall actualisation of food security in the country.
The project which is an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, successfully prepared the participants for taking up poultry and fish farming as forms of enterprises by undertaking capacity building programmes.
Our correspondent who attended the graduation ceremony at The Polytechnic Ibadan, the Oyo State capital reports that beneficiaries were exposed to scientific management of poultry birds including housing, feeding, breeding and health care management, fish and birds.
Odule Juliana Akwaji, one of the beneficiaries who hails from Cross River state, told our correspondent in an interview that they were trained to prepare low cost feed for the birds, using locally available feed ingredients among other things; adding that she intends to go into feeds formulation, stressing that producing feeds for the poultry is in itself a big deal.
“I intend to go into feeds formulation because we have been taught how to formulate feeds. We call it local feeds; we mix so many things like corn, fish meal. We have bone meal, blood meal that is gotten from cow blood, we boiled it, dry it, process it, and mix it all together,” she said.
She, however, warned about environmental pollution, stressing that there is need for governments to provide special area, especially in the outskirts of town where ponds can be located.
However, speaking during the graduation ceremony, Professor, Claudius Omoleye Daramola, the Minister of State, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, charged the beneficiaries to take on the businesses of fish and poultry farming to tackle food security in the country.
Daramola expressed optimism that if the graduands work hard, and effectively apply the skills learnt, they would contribute to achieving food security, not only for their regions, but for Nigeria.
According to the minister of state, during the four weeks intensive training, the participants were adequately exposed to skills like poultry and fish production, value chains for poultry and fish production, agriculture as business enterprise, life skill training for personal business successes, team building and networking, and computer applications.
Addressing the combined graduates of fish and poultry farmers, the minister of state, admonished them to effectively practise what they learnt, and contribute to food security of their respective regions and the country at large.
“My candid advice to you is to properly utilise the empowerment package to set up enterprises that will improve your life, that of your family and even your county. Therefore, I am challenging you today to go and practice what you learnt, contribute to the food security of your region and country at large,” he said.
It was gathered that the participants were given mobilisation fund to the tune of N300, 000 each at the conclusion of the four weeks empowerment programme.
Professor Adekunle Fawole, the Rector of The Polytechnic, Ibadan, in his remarks, noted that fish and poultry farming businesses hold many opportunities but are still largely untapped.
Fawole urged the graduands to take advantage of the untapped opportunities in the sector in order to contribute positively towards uplifting the social and economic growth of their regions.
“The opportunities you have are enormous because the fish and poultry farming businesses in the country are largely untapped,” stated the Rector.
Dr. Benjamin Onoriode Irikefe, the Training Consultant, gave the overview of the course outline to include international trends in poultry management, poultry outlay: equipment, materials and staff, requirements of starting poultry business in Nigeria.
Others are classification of fisheries; entrepreneurial opportunities in fishing, common fish diseases, fish processing technology and quality assurance, fish breeding and applied endocrinology, fish formulation and analyses, among others.
Earlier, Ekenganwan Francis Etang, one of the beneficiaries, and also the Representative for Commercial Fish Farming Class, admitted that the four weeks training exposed them to immense skill acquisition in the area of fish farming business.
Etang said that, already, she had perfected arrangements to go into the business immediately with the money provided by the government.
“My eyes have been opened to various opportunities in fishing. As I speak to you now, I can produce my own feeds, I can also breed fish, what we call fish breeding, and I can decide to go into marketing of fish. So it is a great opportunity for me to have been part of this programme,” she added.
Another participant, Segun Ogoru, a native of Warri area of Delta state, said the training exposed them to various investment opportunities in the area of farming, adding that he had already started a pond in his state.
“Our eyes are now opened to investment opportunities in poultry and fish farming. I have started my pond already, but the challenge I envisage is having a company bond, and land may pose a little problem. By God’s grace I am going to overcome that challenge. We need land for this business and getting a land from where I come from is not easy”.
Akanya Braimo Ali, Director, Economic Development in the ministry, noted that every year, the ministry turns out many trainees in various fields of entrepreneurship.
He appealed to the beneficiaries to judiciously put the empowerment package given them by the federal government to good use, stressing that the programme was not only designed to improve the lives of the beneficiaries, but to impact the communities they live in.
Ali expressed optimism that the gesture of the government if well utilized by the beneficiaries shall not only enhance their financial status but will also contribute in addressing the restiveness in the Niger Delta, and bring about lasting in the region.
Many development professionals believe small-scale fish farming and poultry business women are ideal ways to empower rural women and youth in addition to contributions to food security at the family and community level.
For instance, rural women, often relegated to childcare and household chores due to cultural and social barriers, can benefit greatly from greater income distribution, protein availability and roles in economic decision-making associated with participation in poultry and fish farming businesses.
Experts say that empowering women to become more financially autonomous has proven to be one of the most effective poverty alleviation tools.
According to the United Nations, for example, income generating women spend 90% of their earnings on family needs, like healthcare and education, while men on average spend a mere 35% of their income on the family. Owing to small-scale aquaculture’s lower physical demands and ponds’ proximity to the household, involving women in rural aquaculture has increasingly been gaining momentum.