The National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), on Friday performed the ground breaking of its milk production factory in Giri, Gwagwalada Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory.
Performing the ceremony, Dr Alan Sy-Traore, Director of Agriculture in ECOWAS Commission, commended NANTS for living up to expectations in the partnership projects with the commission.
Traore said that the factory was in line with ECOWAS agricultural policy on livestock value chain.
He restated the commission’s commitment to continue to partner NANTS on trade and economic projects, that would enhance economic development in Nigeria and the ECOWAS region.
Earlier, the Deputy Director, Commercial Ruminant and Dairy Production, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Mr Ibilade Akeem expressed the ministry’s readiness to strengthen partnership with NANTS on meat and milk production.
According to him, the milk production factory is in line with the food security programme of the Federal Government.
The National President of NANTS, Dr Ken Ukaoha said the factory to would be completed within 14 months.
He said that this would ensure the production of hygienic milk toward enhancing food security and national economic development.
Ukaoha said that the need to address the challenges facing the dairy sector necessitated NANTS to construct the milk factory.
“West African region has been plagued with numerous challenges ranging from inefficiency and lack of technical expertise, deployment of obsolete practices, lack of feed, water among others.
“This includes desertification in the North as a result of climate change which has led to cattle and herders travelling far south for grazing and giving rise to conflict with farmers among others,” he said.
Ukaoha said that the situation had further devalued the capacity of the livestock and milk sector, to become attractive as a vocation for the teeming unemployed youths in the region.
“NANTS with support from ECOWAS and Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation has planned a pilot project to modernise and calibrate the milk sector and its practices.
“This is by showcasing the value chains as veritable opportunities for job creation and sustainable means of livelihoods attractive enough for youths,’’ Ukaoha said.
He said that the project would be achieved by improving the production, processing, handling, aggregation, transportation and marketing of milk in compliance with health, safety and environmental regulations.
Ukaoha said the project when completed would serve as a training ground for students of Faculty of Agriculture, University of Abuja.
He said that other relevant institutions within and around the FCT would also benefit from the project also to ensure job creation and youth empowerment.
“The ceremony of this small scale milk production and processing factory is going to serve as a model for milk sector productivity in Nigeria.
“Moreover we have extended this concept towards food production so that animal feeds can also be produced here.
“What this means is that here is going to have a facility where we will also be training young people particularly on food production processes and this is going to be on field.
“This is going to be a kind of practical demonstration,’’ Ukaoha said.
In a goodwill message, the Chairman of Gwagwalada Area Council, Alhaji Abu Giri represented by Mr Yohanna Ishaya of Agric Department, described the project as a welcomed development in the area.
On his part, the Aguma of Giri, Alhaji Musa Wakili commended NANTS for siting the factory in his community, adding that it would provide job opportunities for the people.