According to a United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, 2018 findings, over 815 million people worldwide go to bed hungry, and 13 million Nigerians suffer from acute hunger and probably close to half or more of the world’s population suffer hidden hunger.
While acute hunger needs a great attention of all stakeholders, I believe hidden hunger (mal-nutrition) requires greater attention from us all. This is according to the Group Managing Director, (GMD) Amo Farm Sieberer Hatchery, AFSH, Ltd., Dr. Ayoola Oduntan.
Speaking at the Formal unveiling of the Noiler Bird Initiative to the media in Lagos. Oduntan noted that the initiative was designed to ensure that the 90,000 children or more, whom UNICEF said could die of severe acute malnutrition, are safe and the quality of life in the rural areas in Nigeria, especially women, is improved.
“It is set to eradicate poverty and malnutrition in rural communities, especially among women and youths, as it officially launched its Noiler Bird Initiative in Africa targeting 1.2million smallholder farmers by 2020″.
He added that AFSH intends to put 2 birds in the hands of 5,000 students in rural communities, as a way of empowering them and targets 10 million birds by the end of 2019 in Nigeria.
The Noiler bird Initiative comprises the Mother unit for business purpose and Small Holders Farmers (SHF) for family nutrition and income and through this “we’re enhancing their income opportunities while providing quality source of proteins for them and essentially, their children”.
According to him, it is the responsibility of every Nigerian, especially anyone that can afford at least two square meals, to ensure the scourge is tamed. “It is easy for us to get comfortable in the cities without being in touch with challenges facing rural Nigeria in respect to Poverty and Malnutrition”.
“If UNICEF says more than 240 Nigerian children die of hunger each day, it is the duty of all of us to ensure the figure is drastically reduced. We can’t continue to approach international communities with caps in our hands begging for alms when we have all it takes to curb hunger and poverty in a nation described as the giant of the continent”, Oduntan added.
Already in 5 West African countries, he said AFSH Ltd through years of research from 2003 to 2014 and ongoing, began looking into the production of a Dual-Purpose bird with very low maintenance which can sustain the people and tackle the challenges they face.
“The majority of poor households cannot afford to buy chicken and eggs where estimate of per capita egg consumption is just 60 eggs per person annually while poultry meat consumption is about 2.3 kg/person/year. That is a meagre amount when reviewing the recommended daily protein intake requirement per person which is 20grm/person/day”.
“Having observed that malnutrition, maternal and child mortality and issues around gender in-equality are challenges being faced essentially by women in the rural areas. The depth of this issue cannot be described on the surface level”.
He added that the company believes that poultry for the poorest people will have an added advantage by way of regular day to day cash returns from sale of eggs and periodic cash income from sale of birds for meeting the occasional family exigencies.
“Some of the eggs can also be consumed by children in these families for protein food source. It requires minimum capital and ensures quick return. It does not require more farmland and is accommodated within the homestead area.
Oduntan explained that Noiler Bird is a multicolored dual-purpose breed that is suitable for back yard rearing. According to him, the breeder stocks are well vaccinated and maintained under stringent Bio security to produce a chick with good livability and excellent performance.
“The offspring will have a good disease resistance like a native chicken and the fast-growing character of the bird helps in less brooding efforts. These birds have less fat, tasty and higher meat yield compared to native birds. The meat is tougher and tastier than the commercial broiler meat”.
“The dual-purpose bird has all the attributes of native chicken but grows faster and produces eggs four times more than the native chicken. Its low management requirement makes it easy to rear by the women and families with little farm knowledge. This enables the Noiler bridge the nutritional gap and food security of developing countries. This also can make a huge difference in meeting the per capita consumption of the country.”
He noted that unless those in the rural communities are empowered they may not be able to eat chicken from the average chicken farm.
He however called on corporate organisations and individuals to join hands to end hunger and poverty that has eaten deep into the fabrics of Nigeria and warned that the scourge may consume the nation if not addressed head on.
The Chief Operating Officer, AFSH, Anand Burra said the current average daily protein intake of about 8-13g is far below the recommended minimum daily protein intake of 20g for developing countries.
“A person needs 1gm protein per every kilo of body weight per day for normal growth and development the help of Noiler, the deficit in the daily standard consumption for protein which 20grm/person/day can be provided for. Taking a scenario of a family of five with at least 24 Noiler birds, each member can gain additional 16grm/person/day of protein from its eggs and meat”.
He disclosed that Mother Units are being set up in places closer to all rural villages across the nation to reach the small holder families effectively. Brooding and rearing units to take care of the chicks (for the first 5 weeks) can be supported by the government or interested sponsors, and the 5 weeks old birds (weighing 500gms) can be redistributed to rural families.
“With the Noiler Movement we have been able to empower 338,000 Smallholder Farmers and targeting 1.2 million by 2020 across Africa”.
He said, “The Noiler birds are affordable, enduring, and easy to rear. They produce eggs four times more than their native counterparts. While the male matures to table weight of between 2.0 to 2.5 kg at 14 weeks, while the native chicken takes 10 months to gain 1.5kg body weight, under similar condition. The uniqueness of the Noiler Bird is that it can live on scavenging, kitchen waste and unused grains.”
Some of the beneficiaries of the Noiler initiative who spoke to the press said the initiative has helped put food on their table while also giving their children adequate nutrients needed to live healthy productive lives.
The beneficiaries were drawn from the various regions in the country.
Story By: Theresa Igata