8 June 2012

Nigeria: Animal Farming Easiest Way of Gaining Employment, Income - Expert

Photo: Kate Holt/IRIN
A woman farms rice on her farm in Kaduna State Nigeria.

Food and farming are foundational to a healthyNation,Nigeria has a good climate condition for farming and large areas of farmland, yet it has a problem with employment generation and food security through agriculture. Globally, farmers are said to be kings because they make food available for the society.

Food, as we know, is a basic need that man can never do without. Therefore, there's always a steady flow of money to serious farmers. As the scourge of unemployment and poverty continue to ravage millions of Nigerians, a farmer, Prince Arinze Onebunne Managing Consultant/CEO Jovana Farms, has affirmed that livestock farming is an invariable avenue to create sustainable jobs and ensure food security in the country.

According to him, Nigerians, especially the teeming youths, retirees, job seekers, etc can make a lot of money and produce the needed nutrients from snail, pig, fish, antelope and grassscutter farming.

Prince Onebunne, who is involved in animal farming, training services, farm set-up, technical support and consultancy, called on government at all levels to encourage animal farming by providing soft loans to grass root farmers to produce surplus food in Nigeria; so as to bring about the diversification of the Nigerian economy rather than expending billions of dollars annually in importation of food.

He said that, micro, small and medium scale agricultural enterprises would be drivers for achieving the goal ofNigeriabeyond Oil.

Onebunne who started animal farming many years ago, has grown the business to generate healthy profit. According to him, his success in animal farming is hinged on technical strategies, sound veterinary and animal husbandry research and use of affordable production methods that are suited to micro, small-scale producers. The experience he gained has been made available to entrepreneurs and potential farmers through his nationwide agro-awareness creation and sensitization seminars and workshops.

He said that livestock farming may not appear as classy as manufacturing or being in the financial services sector, but it holds a lot of promise. Many Nigerians moving to the urban areas in search of scarce white-collar jobs would make money if they join the little group of wise Nigerians investing in animal farming in their localities.

Opportunities in grasscutter farming

However, livestock farming is a profitable business but amongst them, grasscutter seems to be the easiest and cheapest to invest in, the reason being that in grasscutter farming, you don't need to buy feed like you do in fish farming, pig farming and poultry farming, he said.

"With N50,000 one can start grasscutter farming business. This enables the beginner to purchase a family of grasscutter comprising one male and four females referred to as a colony. A colony is sold for between N35,000 and N45,000 depending on the age, weight and specie. They can be reared in cages which cost N5,000. For him, grasscutter farming is probably the easiest way for people to become involved in agriculture. Grasscutter can be reared at home. The cages can be kept in the house, compound, under staircase or within a kitchen space if there is no money to rent or buy a land for the business. Grasscutter feed on grass".

The good thing, according to him, is that one female grasscutter can give five to eight litters (babies) at a go. He witnessed 12 at once in his farm, four female means at least five litters (babies) each. This gives up to 20 litters at the end of the day. One can buy young grasscutter breeding stock at four months and rear them for another four months, they will start making babies when they are eight months old.

If one does not have enough space to expand, the best option is to sell the babies to potential farmers. He said there are demand always coming from hotels, eateries, beer palours and restaurants. As a result of high demand for grasscutter, his company launched nationwide seminars to get more Nigerians involved in the business.

Pig farming

Pig farming is also profitable. The business requires patience. Anyone who wishes to go into pig farming must have passion for the business. Feeding pigs takes a period of 5 to 7 months before they mature for selling. You need to start with the weaners and they go for about N4,000. Those who don't have good knowledge of the business can end up feeding their pigs for 10 months and get just 50kg.

But if you really understand the nitty-gritty of pig farming, at seven months after weaning, you can get 75kg to 90kg. Pigs are sold according to their weight. If a pig weighs 90kg that means it will be sold for N22,500 at the rate of N250 per kilogramme, one can get between 12 to 18 piglets from sow at a go.

Antelop breeding farming

There is a huge market for antelope. For example, antelope breeding stock of one male and one female is in high demand by recreation centres, zoos, research institutes, game reserves, holiday resorts, children amusement parks operators. Many households and restaurants serve antelope meals. Onebunne said this is an advantage for his colleagues as Nigerians are looking for the delicious and tasty bush meat to eat.

Snail production

Commercial Snail farming is profitable, if you stock 1,000 snails, all of them are potential egg layers because snails are hermaphrodite. A snail has both male and female reproductive organs. A snail can lay eggs between nine to ten times a year. This means that one snail can give you over 100 eggs in a year, this will amount to 100,000 snails in a year if you are using free range snail farming method.

The demand for snails at the moment is higher than supply. The five star hotels, eateries, relaxation centres and beer parlours are regular buyers of this meat. Interestingly, a snail farmer using free range system can as well incorporate banana plantation into the system thereby creating more than two businesses with one facility.

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