By Timothy Agbor, Osogbo

Experts in agriculture have advised governments at all levels to integrate rural women and youths into poultry business for economic growth of the nation.

The experts however decried the importation of chicken and eggs into Nigeria saying homegrown chickens could be encouraged by government.

Speaking at the launch of African Chicken Genetic Gains (ACGG) in Nigeria, Professor Funso Sonaiya, a lecturer in the Department of Animal Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, Ile-Ife; described the training and empowerment of rural dwellers as the best way of reducing poverty and improve food production.

Delivering a paper on “Chicken Geneticts Resources and Sustainable Rural Livelihoods in Nigeria, Professor Sonaiya said “a few chickens can be a step towards food security and poverty eradication in the rural areas.”

In her address, Director, Biotech Centre, Federal University of Agriculture, (FUNAAB), Abeokuta, Professor Funmi Adebambo, explained that the project was aimed at the economic empowerment and improved health and nutrition of the rural dwellers.

She said, “over 70 per cent of Nigerians living in the rural area covered by this definition of rural poor and who in 2001 were found to have contributed over 0.8 million tones of meat and 1.1 million tones in 2004 from over 117.3 million indigenous chicken in 2001 and 144.2 million in 2004 are still being neglected, rendered voiceless and left to their fate in abject poverty”.

She noted that the launching of ACGG programme would fashion the pathway for innovative and strategic integration of millions of Nigerians who are basically made up of women and youths into the Poultry Value Chain.

ACGG Programme leader, International Livestock Research Institute, Ethiopia, Dr. Tadelle Dessie, said the vision of the organisation is to catalyze public-private partnerships for increasing smallholder chicken production and productivity growth as a pathway out of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.

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