Inside Unilorin’s N600m poultry project

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After years of waiting, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has commissioned the N600 million University of Ilorin (Unilorin) poultry project.

Situated on 30 hectares of land in Amoyo, Ifelodun Local Government Area of ​​Kwara State, the project, conceptualized under the CBN-funded Tertiary Institutions Poultry Revival Programme, is specifically aimed to tertiary institutions to design and implement viable poultry projects that would result in sustainable development of the country’s poultry industry.

A walk inside the farm exposes the enormous potential of the project as a game-changer in the poultry sector and its agricultural value chain, particularly based on the expected benefits with incorporating universities.

So far, the first set of birds, 17,000 layers which already produce 25 egg cases per day with 500 targets, 30,000 broilers, 8 broiler pens, which have capacity for 5 000 birds, four layers, with a total capacity of 23,000, 1000 birds per day, a hatchery and a cold room with a total capacity of 10 tons, are on the ground.

Additionally, there is a blast chiller which can chill around 500 birds for 46 hours, a feed mill which can produce 5 tons per hour and a cooling van with a capacity of 6.5 tons. The boiler processed weekly yields approximately 7.5 tons of meat, excluding other accessories such as head, thigh, neck, gizzard, heart, liver and intestine.

Although the project has started with several activities and processes already underway, there are concerns that universities, CBN and other stakeholders should be aware of.

Speaking on the project, Unilorin GGMax Poultry Steering Committee Chairman Prof. Mikhail Olayinka Buhari said the university has come this far is not an achievement that should be taken for granted due to the bottlenecks, novelty, funding model and several other hurdles that were overcome to get the farm back on track.

He said the project was structured so that “nothing goes to waste when it comes to poultry and its value chain”.

“This is an integrated commercial poultry farm owned by the University of Ilorin but funded by the CBN in partnership with Zenith Bank. After that, it will later be expanded to include polytechnics and colleges of education with the manpower, skills, and other resources needed to successfully set up a business like this.

“We have all been invited to submit a bankable proposal, but the University of Ilorin is the only institution of higher education considered capable of actualizing the vision of CBN,” he added.

To keep the partnership from business as usual, CBN insisted that the university set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV).

A view of the UniIlorin poultry farm

On the way to CBN approval, Buhari said that initially 12 universities were invited, adding that the only thing that sets Unilorin apart was the commitment and focused approach.

“We quickly identified the steps to follow and did everything we could to ensure that the objective was achieved. Doors had to be knocked and opened, as well as levers to be sure to actualize the objective.

“It was new to everyone, including CBN. The vision was there but how to actualize it was not there; and we had to lead the way. We got the special purpose vehicle, which was made a bit difficult due to financial regulations domiciliating our tuition account in a commercial bank, with full insurance as CBN cannot lend you money directly. ‘silver.

“The CBN is the banker and the accountant general is firmly in charge of the actions, so we needed the approval and no objection from the Minister of Finance. The only way we could guarantee this was to issue an irrevocable standing payment order (ISPO). All these took 18 months to get, and in the end, our determination was rewarded,” he explained.

During the commissioning ceremony, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Professor Suleiman Age, pleaded with the CBN on the issue of the interest rate at which the loan was granted, a plea to which the apex bank did not respond.

Further recounting the issue, Buhari said, “We took out a loan of N600 million at a rate of 9%, but before we could process the fund, the CBN lowered the rate to 5% and extended its validity by one year – February 2022 to February 2023.

“Our appeal is that the CBN consider extending the validity beyond February next year to allow us to stabilize because so many other things that we have not considered have come into play, such as the rise in inflation.

“It has become more difficult for us to meet our obligation to the lender, and then, given the overriding objective of this project, it is actually more important to ensure its success than to focus on recovering funds. “, he noted.

For the remaining 11 universities whose proposals were not approved, and the other 40, according to CBN, were still under consideration, the advice is to ask the right questions.

Buhari said, “I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of this country. Other institutions coming after us need to ask the right questions and the right people to overcome the daunting challenges the project faced.

Repayment capacity

In all these cases, there are also concerns about the ability to repay the loan. But Buhari dismissed those fears, saying the university was determined to succeed and open up another prospect of opportunities that would revolutionize the education and unemployment sectors, especially in agriculture.

We are given more than a year to build and stabilize. By February, we have the possibility to extend the scope. The 9% interest amounts to around N13 million per month. But I must point out that processing 5,000 broilers weekly for sale without the attachments is around 2-3 million naira per cycle. According to our calculations, we are supposed to run 8 cycles in about 40 days.

Other Plans/Benefits

Daily Trust observed on Sunday that there are 10 hectares of land at the back of the farm which has been used to grow maize and soybeans, which are direct raw materials for the production of animal feed. There are also plans to use much of the university’s more than 150 acres of land to grow these crops as feedstock for poultry and for commercial purposes as a form of upstream integration.

Also, the production of day-old chicks by December is underway and the conversion and production of powdered eggs during the glut period to avoid losses and allow for very long storage is on the table.

Students will get involved in a winemaker program through this to allow them to see first hand what they have been taught in class and serve as a true laboratory for teacher research. This will further ensure that the country boasts of a viable parental stock model, especially after the arrival of other universities.

Agribusiness

In this area, the university, through the project, is considering the production of organic manure/fertilizer aided by its on-farm manure dryer, intestines as food for fish, the transformation of chicken feathers and blood into meals for other animals like pigs to make sure nothing is wasted. It is also planned to explore the possibility of impact of the farm on the rice sector, which is highly cultivated in the state.

N250m annual IGR for university

With over 7.5 tons of pure meat going out every week, poultry is expected to play a major role in food security, which will in turn help to conserve foreign currency, generate employment opportunities for the local economy with its employs 70 staff and contributes over N250 million to the university’s internally generated revenue (IGR) annually.

Buhari added, “There is nothing we currently have that can bring a tenth of that amount into the university coffers. We may use these funds for many other purposes.

Expansion/future plans

For poultry management, the plan in the future is to use all 30 hectares of land and even expand it. But more importantly, the eventual construction and relocation of the university’s student dormitory and College of Agriculture are in focus.

For Gawati Adedayo Olugbenga, the Chief Operating Officer (COO), Unilorin GGMax Farm, who is also a college graduate, private people have been brought in to differentiate it from the public sector arrangement.

“She has to repay her loan, be profit-oriented and support herself. These are the key questions that we were brought in for, having been in the private sector for years. It’s like giving back to college.

“Some of the challenges are that some people here have an audience and a mental audience and we have to try to find a balance because everyone has a goal, which is just to be successful.

“For the price, it’s a glut period where not much is happening in terms of festivities. We do not sell live chicken, but a processed chicken costs 1,800 naira. We have a standard cooling van that transports our produce to Abuja, Lagos, and we work in the Port Harcourt market,” he added.

For his part, Professor Alred Adegoke, Director of the University of Ilorin Counseling Center, the ISPO of the project, said that a limited liability company had been incorporated to achieve the objective in accordance with the request of CBN. He added that they need to make sure everything is in place and successful.

“Technically, we own the farm. And we give them a purpose because it’s not just about working but being business oriented.

“Everything you see on this farm was done by direct labor to reduce costs. We didn’t have to accept the issue of university supply that would slow us down. We hope to replicate this in other areas of the university so that we can generate funds. The University Academic Staff Union (ASUU) has been on strike for seven months and the government says there is no money. It’s a gold mine and it’s a game-changer in this country in terms of funding if it’s successful, and I hope it will be,” he said.

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