By Varney K. Sirleaf
From The Farm In Cape Mount
The Management of the Obasanjo Poultry Farm in Grand Cape Mount County has dispelled reports filtering in certain quarters, suggesting that the farm is planning to close or has already closed down its operations.
The Farm Nutritionist, Mr. Ige Ebenezer, told this paper last week that management was dissatisfied about the falsehood being spread by some media practitioners.
Speaking in an angry tone, Mr. Ebenezer clarified that there was no way the farm could close down without the acquiescence of the President of Liberia, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, whom he said is the architect of the investment. He added that the report by some journalists who visited the farm on a guided tour to all of the company’s facilities, chose to misinform the public on what they saw, something he described as bad journalistic practice.
Mr. Ebenezer is calling on the public not to panic, saying every pieces of information about the alleged closure of the farm was mere rumor and untrue; “In fact we have brought more equipment into the country to expand our investment,” he said.
He, however, admitted that the farm’s normal operations have slowed down due to the effect of the deadly Ebola Virus disease, a disaster that affected all fabrics of the Liberians society.
“Before the outbreak of the virus, we brought in 60,000 chicks for the purpose of expanding our productivity, but when Ebola came and the State of Emergency was declared and all borders closed, most of the chicks died due to the lack of food. We import corn from Guinea and the Ivory Coast because they are not produced in large quantity in Liberia,” he explained.
He said to assure Liberians that the company is here to stay for good and to make the ‘impossible possible,” they have constructed a new building for incubation which was dedicated on May 10 last year.
He noted that the building will be used to breed the chicks in Liberia instead of bringing them from Nigeria as currently being done.. He said the process of transporting the chicks from Nigeria to Liberia is very costly and most of them died before arrival, citing the 2013 experience at which time 50% of the 30,000 chicks brought into the country died while in en route to the farm.
He emphasized that closing the farm was not something on their minds because according to him, the founding father of the farm, former President of Nigeria OluseogunObasanjo loves Liberia so much; that’s why he decided to open the farm project here to rebuild the economic capacity of Liberians.
Even though Mr. Ebenezer has outlined the cost of production, the process of getting large quantity of feeding (corn & other food items) for the chicks and to transport them to the market was very challenging, but said that they were tirelessly working to overcome these challenges.
He said they are working with the requisite government ministries and agencies including the Ministries of Commerce and Industry, Finance and development Planning, Agriculture and the National Investment Commission to resolve the challenges mentioned above.
“We are not relenting, we will continue to work and make the impossible happen in Liberia. We are also being challenged because farmers in Liberia are not growing corn in large quantity, so we have to purchase corn from Ivory Coast and Guinea to feed the chicks,” he stated.
He said the company has its own customer base, even though they have not started supplying large consignments on the market yet.
“The company is currently supplying 12 cartoons of eggs to the market daily”, which he said were not enough for the entire market; promising that the company will gradually expand its production so that, the market supply per day will increase.
The Farm Nutritionist indicated that if the market women in Red Light, Lakpazee, Popo Beach, Gbarpolu Farmers, Cow Factory market, and the fishermen from Robertsport hear such rumor about the company closing down, they would be troubled because according to him they are the ones who are economically benefiting from the company through the supply of corn, “torbor, fish and cow bones.
He then explained that the goal of the company is to help build the capacity of other farmers who are also involved in producing eggs on the local market.
Mr. Ebenezer is also encouraging institutions of higher learning in Liberia that are offering Bachelor’s degrees in Agriculture to send their students for internship on the farm.
Meanwhile, he has called on Liberians to make use of the company’s eggs which are fresh from the factory instead of the frozen ones from other parts of the world which usually take a longer time before arriving in Liberia.