AT a time the Federal Government is seriously pursuing diversification of the economy, with agriculture as the major focus, the South-East may soon become the highest supplier of chicken and eggs in the country, with the massive investment in this line of business of late.
At Umueze village, in Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra State, the multi-million naira investment has lightened up the community, making the influx of people and heavy load vehicles conveying equipment and materials therein a daily occurrence.
At the centre of this, is Mohaz Integrated Farms, which goes into full scale production in a couple of weeks. A visit to the site, which has a land mass of about 125 hectares, would keep the visitor dumbfounded due to the enormity of the work going on and the vision of the Director, a son of Umueze, Ogbuehi Michael Obi Ohazulike.
Already, the multi-million investment has started skeletal production with just a section of the poultry farm, where it is presently producing about 950 crates of eggs daily. Ohazulike said that they were doing six houses of poultry production now.
He said: “Here, we have about 15 hectares of land, hectares not acres of land and also when you move down there, we have about 110 hectares where we plan on cultivating corn, that is maize as well as soya beans, somewhere around the river there.
“We intend to produce egg in large numbers, maybe about 4, 000, 5, 000 crates everyday here. At the moment, we produce about 900 crates; over there we have two big houses of about 60 metres by 15 metres each, where we house about 10, 000 birds each. From each house, we produce about 300 crates of eggs every day; so looking at those two houses over there, we can get about 600 crates of egg every day and from the other side of the farm, the breeder house, we have about 350 crates of egg every day. In total, we are looking at about 950 crates of egg currently under production here every day.”
When fully operational, the farm would be the first in Nigeria to have commercial turkey production, it is also expected to produce tomatoes in the house.
Speaking on the new structures and the integrated project, Ohazulike said: “It is an integrated project; we are doing poultry, and eventually we will also do dairy, that’s meat production and, of course, horticulture, tomatoes production. We intend to build green houses. By green houses, I mean you produce tomatoes in the house without soil. It is an innovation. Basically, this is a fully automated building. Here we are planning to produce about 60,000 birds here.
However, not withstanding the government’s constant call on people to invest in agriculture as alternative to the oil and promises of free duty for agricultural equipment, Mohaz had difficulties in bringing in equipment for its farm and had to pay exorbitant fees as duty with the Customs.
Speaking on the challenges being faced, Ohazulike said: “I would say power supply is our greatest challenge, stable power supply. We don’t want to mention payment of duties because it has been very challenging with the Nigeria Customs. Well, they are doing their job, we know, but sometimes the government needs to come into this because we need to get some incentives.
“With these structures, we don’t want to pay 20 per cent on the duty, these are agricultural equipment, we want to go for zero per cent; may be maximum five per cent on the duty, but the Customs billed us 20 per cent as the duty payment. I mean it discourages every potential investor in the industry and if government starts doing something for us, by means of giving us incentives, giving us rebate in the importation duty, I think the industry will grow; otherwise they are crippling the industry by charging 20 per cent duty on a poultry building structure like this one.”