By Emmanuella Anokam
The National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), in collaboration with West African Institute for Trade and Agricultural Development (WAITAD), has begun the construction of a Word-Class small-scale Abattoir in Gwagwalada Area Council, Abuja.
The project is tagged “Innovative Investment in Livestock and Meat Value Chain Development and Trade.’’
It is supported by ECOWAS and Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation with the Gwagwalada Area Council and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development as collaborators.
Dr Ken Ukaoha, NANTS President, speaking at the ground breaking of the project on Friday, in Giri, Gwagwalada, Abuja, said the project would be completed in the next six months.
Ukaoha explained that the project is part of its measures to address the ill and obsolete practices in slaughtering, processing and handling of meat in the Territory.
He noted that the livestock and meat sector along the West African corridor, particularly marketing sub-sector, was bedeviled with challenges, ranging from archaic slaughter infrastructure, outdated processing facility and unhygienic handling and environment.
He listed others as weak distribution networks, inability to compete with imports and weak capacity to attract investments and mobilise youth employment among others.
“A visit to an average abattoir and meat market in Nigeria exhibits disgusting sight of unhygienic practices which rather pose heavy public health risks and indeed constitute a breeding ground for possible pandemic.
“Essentially, the current era of COVID-19 and other related ailments have made sanitation very necessary and calls for serious investment and caution in the preparation and consumption of meat and other livestock products.
“And it was for these cogent reasons that NANTS and its consortium members sought to address the problems through adoption of a holistic and integrated approach which will cover several related and independent activities even beyond the construction of the abattoir,“ Ukaoha said.
According to the President, the abattoir, when completed, will showcase best practices to practitioners in West Africa and serve as a training arena for butchers and other practitioners in the meat value chain, traders, transporters and other handlers.
He said it would equally increase professionalism and profitability through the establishment of improved meat processing facilities, environmental hygienic standards and effective regulatory measures.
He further noted that it would mobilise investment and attract employment generation targeted at youths through the livestock and meat value chain.
The NANTS boss highlighted other activities of the centre to include installation of support facility for packaging and setting up of waste digestion, Biogas collection infrastructure, a vertinary section and ICT-driven market linkage.
In a remark, Dr John Ofoha, WAITAD Representative, said the project would ensure massive job creation for the youths, create wealth and reduce the level of poverty in the area.
Ofoha, who described the project as a knowledge enhancement one for butchers, expressed WAITAD’s readiness to continue to partner with NANTS on projects that would uplift the living standard citizens.
Mr Ibrahim Mohammed, Assistant Director in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, lauded NANTS on the project, which he said aligned with its current programme of Government aimed at ensuring food security.
Mohammed, while expressing commitment to ensure that the project yielded the desired goal, added that it was worthy to be replicated across the country.
Also speaking, Alhaji Mustapha Adamu, Executive Chairman, Gwagwalada Area Council, commended NANTS for selecting the Area Council for the project out of the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the country.
Adamu, represented by Mr Yohanna Ishaya, Head of Veterinary Division of the Council, said the intent to locate the project in Gwagwalada was `Divine’ because of the University of Abuja and Research Institute situated in the Area.
He approved the extension of its road to the express road for accessibility, adding that it would expose citizens to progress.
The FCT Chairman of Nigerian Butchers Association, Alhaji Ahmed Balogun, expressed excitement, saying “we have been rallying around for this kind of opportunity to improve our butcher business, we pray God for its actualisation.’’ (NAN)