Ayade: Poultry production as the new black gold
By Chidi Onyemaizu
With attention focused on broadening the frontiers of his state’s economy, agricultural value chain is at the heart of Governor Ben Ayade-inspired rapid economic diversification in Cross River state.
In that chain, Poultry farming is primed to become a major income earner. Sprouting in the Southern part of the state, just a few kilometres away from Calabar, the state capital, is the biggest poultry in Nigeria, the ultra modern Cross River Integrated Poultry Farm Ltd.
The construction of the facility is going on at feverish pace.
When completed, it will be churning out thousands of birds daily. It has six broiler houses, layers and of course, the hatchery.
Tens of thousands of birds per broiler is expected to have multiple effect of massive production of eggs and chickens.
Ayade enthuses about the poultry farm: “We have three products here, the broilers which is the one for eating that goes to the slaughter house, the egg production which is the hatchery, it has an incubator system that will give you the layers, the layers give you about one million eggs per day.
“We have a highly automated and climate regulated hatchery so it goes through the incubator and a day old chick is produced and goes to the public and the public now grows it to maturity and sells to the slaughter house.
“The farm will be run with latest technology in poultry production such as the eco friendly system which is a new technique in poultry farming.”
There are three major downstream benefits derivable from the poultry farm: eggs in a large scale commercial proportion , day-old chicks and frozen chickens also in commercial dimension.
Producing at full, installed capacity, the Cross River Integrated Poultry Farm Ltd is conceived to also serve small and medium scale poultry farmers in the South South region and beyond, especially in the area of purchase of day-old chicks.
Because of the absence of meaningful poultry farms of commercial dimension in the South south, most poultry farmers in the region travel to the South West to source for day- old chicks.
In the poultry mix in Cross River is the 22,000 birds per day Calachika Chicken Processing plant which is about 90 percent completed.
One of the industries at the Calabar industry park established by Ayade, the ultra modern Chicken processing plant is positioned to be fed by the Integrated Poultry Farm.
Cross River is eyeing the West African sub region for the supply of its poultry products from the poultry farm and Calachika.
While Calachika slaughters, processes and freezes the Chickens both for export and local consumption, the poultry farm, beyond satisfying local needs, will have its products- day old chicks and eggs-exported.
Witnesses to the state of the art poultry farm as well as the CalaChicka chicken processing plant agree that Ayade’s dexterity in making the difference in Agricultural value chain is on the verge of clearly establishing Cross River nay Nigeria ahead of three other African countries as the doyen of poultry production in Africa.
Ghana, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Nigeria are four top countries in Africa best for Poultry investment.
With estimated 200 million population, research shows that Nigeria’s poulty consumption is already in the double digit, but a far cry from the 40kg annual consumption most countries have attained.
Experts are of the view that when operational, the Cross River Integrated Poultry Farm Ltd and the Calachika Chicken processing plant will mount a perfect combination that has the potentiality of launching the state into a poultry exporting state, apart from hugely meeting local consumption demands.
Africa’s poultry market, according to experts, is experiencing a boom due to burgeoning population with China and Brazil as the biggest exporters of frozen chicken to the continent,thus retarding local production.
However, many African countries, including Nigeria, have since realised the income potentials for local poultry production and have placed a ban on poultry products to protect local producers.In Nigeria, tons of smuggled frozen Chicken are seized almost daily by the Customs and destroyed.
It’s in the light of the above that many opine that Cross River’s diversification into poultry production holds huge promise for the Nigerian and African poultry market and by extension, the state’s economy.
Notedly, before 2015, like most states in Nigeria, Cross River was stuck in mono economy, almost entirely dependent on the crude oil induced monthly federal allocation.Then Professor Ayade happened in the state’s political firmament on May 29,2015 and began the monumental task of changing the narrative.The elegant fall out of this? The ongoing systematic but meticulous re- calibration, reinvention and decoupling of the Cross River’s economy.
Going by his strides in massive Industrialisation of Cross River, the governor can perfectly be described as a case study in economic re-engineering; an authority in transition from a mono to multi- faceted economy powered by Agro-industrialisation.
Thus when Ayade tells you that Cross River is now chasing “Agri-dollar” as opposed to “Petro-dollar”, he knows exactly what he means: That is another way of telling the world that as the man in the driver’s seat of Cross River’s affairs for the next four years, he is preparing the state for the future, a future devoid of total dependence on crude oil revenue.
Ayade is keying Cross River into such a time in Nigeria’s economic evolution and development when the black gold will play minimal role in economic growth and sustenance of his state and country.
Therefore, superbly rising like a Phoenix from ground zero, in one leap, Cross River state under the masterly supridentence of Ayade, an academic of repute and a Professor of Environmental Microbiology, has broken forth to start the process of decoupling itself from from what gnaws at Nigeria’s economic stability and growth: Mono economy.