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Poultry farmers demand continuation of school feeding programme

Some poultry farmers in Lagos State have called for the continuation of the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) to boost the sector.

The farmers said this in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lagos.

NAN reports that the NHGSFP was a government-led school feeding programme aimed at improving the health and educational outcomes of public primary school pupils.

It used farm produce locally grown by smallholder farmers to provide children with nutritious midday meals on every school day.

The programme linked local farmers to the education sector by facilitating their access to the school feeding market.

Mr. Asimi Shittu, chieftain of the Poultry Association of Nigeria, Alimosho chapter, appealed for the continuation of the school feeding programme due to its numerous benefits.

Shittu noted that discussions to bring back on board the national school feeding programme had been ongoing by the present administration but had yet to materialise.

“As poultry farmers, we earnestly seek the restart of this programme not just for the benefit of the schoolchildren but also for the growth of the poultry sector.

“A lot of people are suffering due to the closure of the programme. A lot of people have also lost their jobs, e.g., the cooks, the vendors, and others across the value chain of the programme.

“The government needs to resuscitate this programme. The rise in the price of eggs and other poultry produce should not be a reason for the programme’s discontinuation.

“A lot of food items are expensive, but people still eat, so there is no reason why the programme should be continuously put on hold.

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“We are still producing chicken and eggs, and people are buying them. All the government will do is adjust its budget for the programme,” Shittu said.

According to him, the initiative should not be abandoned because it gives the government a lot of credibility.

“Since the discontinuation of the school feeding programme, available data show that the number of out-of-school children has risen to 630 million.

“While they were being fed in school, attendance increased,” he said.

On his part, Mr. Joel Oduware, a poultry processor, said an adequate budget was necessary for the sustainability of the school feeding programme.

“What killed the national school feeding programme was that they budgeted less than it actually cost to feed the children.

“The programme was not sustainable because of the inability of the organisers to meet the growing cost.

“Most states and local governments refused to support the programme because it was believed to be a federal government initiative.

“Before the resumption of the school feeding programme, the government must factor in the reality of the present cost for it to be sustainable.

“If the feeding programme is revived, it will be beneficial to poultry farmers across the country.

“It will help us mop up our chicken and eggs, as the purchasing power of consumers seems to be at its lowest presently.

“Proper funding will help the feeding programme thrive, as a lot of children go to school hungry in Lagos State alone,” Oduware said. (NAN)

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