How to make poultry products more abundant, affordable to Nigerians – FUTA don

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By Abdallah el-Kurebe

A Professor of Poultry Nutrition and Management, Francis Igbasan, says a reduced reliance on the traditional energy sources such as soybean and fish meal in poultry diets will not only result in sustainability of the poultry industry but also lead to availability and affordability of poultry meat and eggs in the country.

He stated this while delivering the 116th inaugural lecture of the Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA, on Tuesday November 12, 2019.

Igbasan said the available feed resources are limited and in order to keep up with the needs of the populace for adequate protein supplies, through poultry meat and egg consumption, drastic measures such as utilization of non-conventional feed ingredients must be adopted.  

He said “these alternative products do not compete as food for man and  are therefore central to the achievement of animal feed industry and poultry production sustainability.”

He highlighted field peas, rye, vegetable leaf meals made from spinach, moringa and fluted pumpkin, rubber seed meal as some of the unconventional feed resources whose nutritive qualities can be enhanced with micronutrients to enhance the performance of poultry birds.

The don said Nigeria is a food deficit nation where millions of people go to bed every day with empty stomachs thus “poultry production is one of the best tools to help end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition because of its short rearing period and wide acceptability of its products which cut across religion and tradition.”

According to Igbasan, “new ideas and technologies must be embraced to meet up with the growing population and demands for food in Nigeria.” 

“This, according to him,” entails proper scientific documentation of non-conventional feed resources with respect to availability of nutrient and nutrient compositions, various biotechnology innovations and processing techniques to improve their utilization, and establish minimum and maximum levels of incorporation in diets for various classes of animals especially poultry.”

He said “efficient processing methods must be employed to minimize or eliminate the anti-nutritive effects of antinutritional components in those feedstuffs while canvassing for a more holistic and integrated approach to the development of feeding programmes that will incorporate alternative options for poultry feed ingredients.”

The don further stated that the major animal feed ingredients include cereals, oilseeds, fats and oils which provide the protein and energy required for animal for growth, production of eggs and meat and to maintain good health.

He however decried the fact that inadequate and seasonal supply and price volatility are key factors that limit the manufacturing of feeds used in poultry production.

The don said the ever-increasing cost of poultry feeds with the attendant increase in the cost of poultry meat and eggs show that there is a need to explore the use of unconventional feed resources that are cheaper, locally available with minimal negative effects on the birds.

Igbasan pointed out that poultry production remains the most widespread of all livestock enterprises as it constitutes an important pillar of food security improvement as well as socio-cultural and economic development in most countries.

The lecturer disclosed that the Nigerian poultry industry has emerged as the most commercialized dynamic and fastest expanding segment in the animal husbandry sub sector of Nigerian agriculture and compared to other livestock sectors, the industry is better organized and progressing towards modernization.   

Prof Igbasan said government at all levels, the university System and other critical stakeholders must be involved in the organization of programmes to create awareness among poultry farmers and feed millers about the benefits of utilizing non-conventional feed resources in their production programmes.

He advocated for a strong collaboration between academia, poultry famers and the feed millers.

He said these stakeholders must sit together and share experiences, and poultry farmers and feed millers must get guidance from the academia by undergoing short trainings on various aspects of poultry farming, feed formulation and feed milling.

The don stressed the need for the reactivation of Commercial Feed Millers Association of Nigeria (COFAN) and Industrial Feed Millers Association of Nigeria (IFAN) which used to be in existence to enable the industry coordinate, regulate, and also influence policy decisions as they relate to feeds.

The Vice- Chancellor Professor Joseph Fuwape, who chaired the occasion, praised the brilliant delivery of the lecture.

Describing the inaugural lecturer as a tested and trusted academic, Fuwape said he has been a consistent productive scholar and an excellent researcher since his assumption of office in FUTA.

Igbasan said it is an indisputable fact that animal feed industry and poultry production are important elements of Nigeria’s agriculture and economy and posited that adoption of non-conventional feed resources in poultry nutrition will be a sure way to achieve the strategic plans on sustainable animal production for national food security and poverty alleviation.

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