By Chinyere Ogbonna – As part of efforts to reduce the high rate of malnutrition, infant and maternal mortality, as well as stunting among children in rural communities in Nigeria, natnudO Foods Limited, producers of natnudO Chicken and eggs, has donated five thousand (5,000) Noiler birds and seventy- five thousand (7,5000) eggs to indigent people in the Borno State, northeast Nigeria. This includes widows and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
This, according to the management of the company, was born out of its out goodwill to support the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Borno State Government’s effort, to save the people in the region from protein deficiency as well as to create a source of income for the women in the rural areas by donating foundation stock to make them poultry entrepreneurs.
The Group Managing Director, natnudO Foods, a subsidiary of Amo Farm Sieberer Hatchery Limited, Dr. Ayoola Oduntan, said both birds and eggs, which are among the best sources of protein would enhance the nutrition profile of their diets. According to Dr. Odutan, the quickest and easiest source through which the people in the disadvantaged rural areas and IDP camps could get high quality protein to supplement their food is chicken and eggs.
Speaking at the launching and presentation of the birds and eggs to the beneficiaries by the
Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh and the Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima at the Government House in Maiduguri, north east Nigeria, early this week, Dr. Oduntan noted that, many of the people in the benefiting communities were malnourished because their foods only contained high levels of carbohydrates without protein.
According to the the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF report, about five point nine million babies (5.9 mil) are born every year in Nigeria, and over one million of these babies die before the age of five years owing to malnutrition. It was also projected that about five point two million (5.2 mil) people were expected to be seriously affected by malnutrition against the 4.7 million currently affected in the North-East.
The natnudO boss, who handed the birds and eggs to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, explained that Noiler birds, which could be reared at the backyard, on free range, just like the local birds, do not require high input in rearing like the broiler and layer breeds, but happily produce eggs and gain weight rapidly. Dr. Oduntan informed that the dual-purpose birds were developed in Nigeria, saying the initial letter ‘N’ of Noiler stands for ‘Nigeria ‘to indicate local content, adding that it is something Nigerians should be proud of.
As he said, the birds would serve two purposes of providing protein and creating entrepreneurs in the northeast and the country at large. He added that malnutrition and poverty would grossly reduce in the country. “If we can have five million rural women with twenty (20) birds in their backyards to feed their children with eggs and chicken or sell poultry products in their village markets to support their families.”
Dr. Oduntan said the Noiler breed, which was the outcome of many years of research by the Arno Farm Sieberer Hatchery Limited, could be fed with leftovers from kitchen and farm on free range.
He explained that he was challenged to commit his Research and Development (R&D) Department to develop such easy-to-rear birds for the indigent rural people, having learnt that Nigeria was among the countries that recorded the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world.
Dr. Oduntan further stressed that “rather than just donate birds, we are teaching the rural women how to become poultry entrepreneurs, as we have trained them in both poultry management and entrepreneurship, and we hope some will evolve into commercial farmers as they resettle into their communities”
“These Noiler birds can grow fast within two and half months. At maturity, the birds would be two to four times bigger than the other birds in the country side and they will be organic chickens”.
He clarified that the rearing of the Noiler birds did not require any rigorous formal training as they could be reared like the local birds. The natnudO boss, therefore recommended the birds to all rural communities requiring empowerment as a source of income to them as well as a major source of nutrition to the family and consumers.
The company also donated two hundred and fifty (250) units of 25kg bags of feed to the two hundred and fifty (250) women in addition to a sachet of vitamins to assist the birds settle properly into their new homes. Noiler Country Coordinator, Bunmi Oluwalasinu added that the ﬁrst phase of the donation to the North-East was targeted at the women in the lDP’s in Maiduguri, Borno state, northeast Nigeria in order to help them recover from the devastation of the last few years resulting from insurgency in the zone.
She noted that the Noiler birds would benefit the low-income farmers who could not afford the financial requirement needed to set up big poultry farms for broilers and layer birds. Apart from donating the birds and eggs to the lDP’s, Oluwalasinu informed the gathering that the beneficiaries were also trained on how to rear the birds, adding that the training was part of capacity building programme of the company, where the farm management and entrepreneurs are trained.
In his remarks the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who expressed appreciation for the kind gesture, said the donation to the lDP’s would go a long way to reducing the suffering of the affected people. Chief Ogbeh, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Bukar Hassan, also commended the company for its pioneering research and development effort in the poultry sector, describing it as what the country needed at this time to develop the agricultural sector.
The minister, who promised to support the beneficiaries with one additional bag of feeds each, said the ministry would seek the partnership of the company in sustaining locally developed birds. Also speaking, the Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, said natnudO had done very well not only to provide protein for the malnourished people but also to empower people through its laudable research in the agricultural sector and alleviate poverty in the area and by extension, Nigeria.
He donated ten thousand naira (N10,000.00) per beneficiary for their feeding and well-being.
Good Shettima who noted that the natnudO intervention was timely, said the government would support the initiative through partnership with the company, saying the government would try to sensitize the rural people to key into the initiative, as he was committed to bringing them out of poverty into prosperity.