THERE IS STILL WIDE GAP IN NIGERIAN MEAT MARKET - MAFINDI
He tells you proudly that he is a farmer in a society when many are shy to be associated with the profession, but who would not be if you are in the position of Alhaji Tafida Mafindi, the chairman of FAMAG-JAL farms.
One of the farms is sitting on an expanse of 15,000 hectares of land in Jikwoyi, a suburb of Abuja and the other farm in Taraba state is over 36, 000 hectares. The farm is host to over 1,500 cattle and over 50 staff engaged for different activities in the farm.
On a visit to the Jikwoyi farm recently, Mafindi took out time to have a chat with JIMOH BABATUNDE as he supervised work on the modern abattoir that is being erected at the farm by some Chinese. Here is an excerpt .
On reason for investing in modern abattoir and animal husbandry
We are investing in this modern abattoir, because the demand for meat in the country has not been meant. The protein needs of the country is in the region of 20% and there is up to 80% left to be meant, so it is a market that is readily available and anybody that ventures into it will not have any problem.
The only problem you will have is how to sort out yourself by producing what the people want hygienically, then it will fly and the sky is the limit.
If you go to any cocktail party, and you see ten trays of food items brought in, four out of these food items are protenious food like meat , fish and before the other six trays are consumed, these four are gone because the demands are very high.
On the funding of the abattoir project
Those of us who have in vested in the agricultural sector are very few because of low support from government and related agencies. I single-handedly finance my project here without any support whatsoever from anybody or government except for agric loan I got and it's for the proposed abattoir market.
We started modestly, we accessed commercial agricultural loan to the tune of N250m from the First bank , then I introduced my own personal money to the tune of N600m and that is what has gone in and I hope at the end of the day we come out with what can take care of Nigerians.
On the facilities at the abattoir
The challenges are real. What we have here are two lines and three receiving facilities. This line you see here are for processing rams and goats. And the other line there is for processing cows, goats and the middle line is a splitter unit where the cow will be processed , then you have a filter where they are selected for consumption.
Those that will be certified for consumption and those that will not be certified for human consumption go in for feeding of dogs and if not certified for consumption at all they go into the incinerator.
After that, we have four chilling rooms, the floors are being done and the chilling rooms are for reducing the meat to minus 30 degrees within 30min so that you don't loss the nutrient, the content and everything.
We also have the processing units after the cold rooms where the meat is split to what is demanded whether fillet, mince meat or any other type of meat that is demanded for will be done there.
What we are going to produce here are going into international market, so we have to cold store it and get it to the costumer in the right quality . Even the local consumer might want to pick his meat well processed for his table
On the sources of goat, sheep and cow
Nigeria has enough sheep , goat or cow for any company, the materials are there , the only thing we are creating is the environmentally hygienic processing. That is what we are selling to the customers.
If you visit any abattoir in Nigeria today, you may dislike meat forever. That is the difference we are creating. What we are going to give the consumer at the end of the day is hygienically processed, certified meat, because we are going to be certified here in Nigeria and all international food certifying bodies. They are going to come here to certify us so that we can have access to different markets.
On how to get the private sector involved in processing
It is to cluster and investment in farm availability, this when you use the available land we have today, that is properly cleared, root removed, stump surveyed.
I know under the government of Babaginda there was an organisation for provision of farm lands, we need to re-activate it and that cannot be done commercially, it has to be done as a venture capital for a long time investment from government for whoever decides to have a commercially viable farm, because for you to harvest, you need to harvest everything at a time, no wastage and no loss
If you are going to plant
maize, you need the population , because if you have an hectare and you are planting one meter apart that means there will be 100 plants by 100
plants that means you have 1000 stuck to produce comb, but if you have six inches which is 150cm, you have 600 by 600 in one hectare which will give you
360,000 cobs of maize in one hectare, that will allow you to produce 15 tonnes per hectare and the traditional one allows you to produce one tonne per hectare.
You cannot compare the result of the two. What about the by-products? the grass that comes out of this that you process into cattle feed, if you have 1000, an hectare will not give you one tonne but if you have 360,000, an hectare can give you five tones of hay, then you don't need to see the magic there for the production of cattle when you mix the by- products with molasses, and other additives like palm kernel cake, ground nut cake, cotton seed cake and you feed
There is no magic in production of animal anywhere in the world. The difference between cattle rear in Nigeria and Europe is feed. Any cow in Nigeria you
feed can grow like those in Europe grow, because they have the same gene. We have experimented it and we succeeded.
Cow is not meant to be roaming about, they are meant to be in one play, feed, rest, sleep like any normal person. Wake up and eat again. Drink good water, get vaccine to curb disease and other disturbances, you will see it grow in terms of meat and milk.
On disease control in the control.
We are grateful that we have an organisation in Vom, Plateau state, that produces good vaccines, but delivery is the problem. Before, it used to be the three tier of government, but today, the farmer is on its own.
So the vaccine that needed five degree centigrade temperature can be delivered to you by 25 degree, so it is only god that will help you if the vaccines works for you . That is what we are suffering.
There are anticipatory diseases like what is happening today in Ghana where there is anthrax as well as Mali, but nobody is vaccinating Nigerian cows against anthrax and we know it is a matter of 24hours, a butcher who handles cow in Ghana might be a Nigerian or Cameroonian and passes through here and since the disease is a vector one, it will come into Nigeria.
Look at the other diseases like the cow madness, look at others there was no schedule made for farmers to get there cattle vaccinated , but we have the production yard in Jos.
On youth involvement in agriculture
It boils down to what we said earlier that they should provide the farm land and they are given good seeds, good fertilizers and other farm inputs as well as good managers, because what we lack in agriculture in Nigeria is good manager.
If you employ somebody as a manager, you have invited an enemy to you compound, they can go to Europe to employ retire people , or china as well as other places which is not a bad ideal. Here we have Chinese, Irish nationals and this has stabilized things for us as they don't know how to steal tyres, diesel .