Poultry farmers across the country have lauded the National Home-Grown School Feeding Program (NHGSFP) for helping to revitalize the livestock sector and generate more income.
Speaking in separate interviews on the positive impact the school feeding programme is having on their businesses and the economy in general, the poultry farmers commended the initiative and the transparent manner in which they were engaged to supply eggs for the intervention across the country.
Vice Chairperson/Egg Aggregator, Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Kaduna State chapter, Hajiya Binta Adamu, explained that using PAN members to collect and supply eggs for the feeding programme in the State has helped in spreading the wealth and fostering unity among members.
She disclosed that since the commencement of school feeding in Kaduna State in 2017, PAN has grown in leaps and bounds with initial sceptics now part of the scheme.
“The idea of using PAN members to collect and supply the eggs is a strategy that helped in spreading the wealth and also carry members along. Since the advent of the NHGSFP, membership of PAN Kaduna State chapter has increased from 982 registered members to about 2000 members,” said Adamu.
She further disclosed that the initiative has led to increased production of eggs in Kaduna, with farmers and other players in the supply chain smiling to the banks.
Adamu explained that “Kaduna State joined the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) on 14 July 2017 and the aggregator supplies 35,000 crates of eggs weekly. This quantity of egg is being mopped from big registered and small unregistered poultry farmers as well as women co-operatives across the 23 local government areas in the State, as there is no way one person can supply such massive number of eggs every week.
“Most of our farmers who had difficulty in selling their eggs and some selling on credit in the open market suddenly regained their liberty when we started mopping their eggs and paying them instantly. The number of farmers who currently supply eggs to the NHGSFP in Kaduna State stand at over 500 persons; this includes small farmers that supply between five to 50 crates on a weekly basis. In Kaduna State, eggs are in high demand and are the key in poultry farming as farmers are increasing their production.”
Adamu admitted that though there are challenges caused by market forces including the high cost of raw materials that result in high cost of egg production, “the distribution network for egg supply to the NHGSFP in Kaduna State is seamless.”
Also speaking, proprietor of Epac Farms, Oyo State, Ms Aishatu Ibrahim, disclosed that the benefits of supplying eggs for the school feeding programme in the State has not been limited to poultry farmers alone, but has extended to commercial drivers as well as bakeries.
She recalled that she knew nobody at the State Office of the School Feeding Programme but only applied as an egg supplier after seeing an advert. She was chosen as an egg aggregator after a thorough screening, then trained and tasked with getting other farmers on board.
“Right now, we have nothing less than 120 farmers across the State that we work closely together on the HGSFP in Oyo State. Importantly, the value chain has also trickled down to the Oyo State chapter of the National Union of Road Transport Workers. The drivers on the HGSFP scheme are numerous because we depend on them for transporting the farm produce from local farms to the point of supply,” she said.
Ms Ibrahim added that since school feeding commenced in Oyo State, 7910 crates of eggs are purchased weekly and that, to protect poultry farmers from losses during school breaks, an arrangement was made with some members of the State Bakers Association.
She said, “we also work closely with the Bakers Association. When schools are on holidays, these bakers buy the farm produce from the poultry farmers engaged in the HGSFP scheme. This approach helps our farmers a lot in reducing their risk.”
The School Feeding Programme is one of the Social Investment Programmes of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration overseen by the National Social Investments Office (NSIO). It was launched in 2016 with over nine million pupils in classes 1 to 3 currently benefitting in almost 50,000 public primary schools across 26 States.
In a document released earlier this month to highlight the achievements and critical areas of the economy that the School Feeding Programme has positively impacted on since its launch in 2016, the NSIO had disclosed that 138,000 birds and 6,800,000 eggs worth N201 million and N204million respectively are purchased weekly from members of the Poultry Association of Nigeria in the various States.