person_pin Okey Onwuka
query_builder July 19, 2019 09:54:43


By Florence Oduah :

Umuchu (Aguata LGA), July 18, 2019 (MOI) Chairman, Eagle Farms, Umuchu, Aguata Local Government Area (LGA), Prince Ugochukwu Okparaeke says he started his cow breeding business with only two Igbo species of cows.

``I started cow breeding about 18 years ago with only two 'Ehi Igbo', (local breed), a male and a female and so far, I have bred note less than 300 cows,’’ Okparaeke said this in an interview.

According to him, I no longer breed only the Igbo specie of cow (Ehi Igbo) as market for it has dwindled.

``Initially, we bred more of 'Ehi Igbo' than 'Ehi Hausa' (Species from the Northern parts of the counrty) but we cut down on the Igbo specie because our people prefer the species from the north because of it is bigger size.

``In the past, the Igbo culture permitted only use of 'Ehi Igbo’ (Igbo specie in cultural ceremonies including funeral/burial rites.

``That culture no longer exits today because people want cows with more meat; that has adversely affected their sales among the people.’’

He noted that he currently had three species of cows numbering 58 in his farms.

``Currently, we have three species -- 'Ehi Igbo', Ehi Hausa' and the cross breed.

``Ehi Igbo is the most expensive and tastes better when cooked.’’

Okparaeke said that currently the Anambra State Government was pushing for a revival of the breeding of 'Ehi Igbo' in the state, with many traditional rulers endorsing the move as `progressive’.

``Some traditional rulers within the state and indeed the South East have resolved to revert to local breed (Ehi Igbo) as the only acceptable specie of cows for cultural rites.

``Many of them have called to encourage us to breed the local specie and applauding the state government over the move,’’ Okparaeke said.

He pointed out that Anambra Government had expressed a desire to partner with farmers across the 21 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state to expand the production of 'Anambra Cows'.

``The Commissioner for Agriculture, Mechanisation, Processing and Export, Mr Nnamdi Onukwuba and me have been requested by the Government to draw workable plan for the project.’’

He noted that the 'Anambra Cows' would comprise 'Ehi Igbo', Ehi Hausa' and the Cross breed but would have more of 'Ehi Igbo'.

``The cows do not trespass on other people's farmlands, but are confined as they graze within farm.

``The funding for the project will be granted to the farmers by the government and the project will be monitored,” stressed Okparaeke.

He said he had concluded plans to go into the breeding of dairy cows as milk production was his original idea for venturing into farming (cows).

``This will, not only generate more income but also create more job opportunities for the youths, particularly the women.’’

He said his cows yield milk but only when lactating and at smaller quantities compared to dairy cows.

``For now, we only get 11 litres of milk daily from the cows and only when they are lactating.

``Currently, some cows in the Northern parts of the country can yield as much as 18 to 25 litres of milk daily.

``We want to get pure diary species from Kenya and India that can yield up to 35 to 40 litres of milk per day, even when not lactating.

``I have discussed with foreign experts/farmers and the plans have been concluded. Milk production is the idea behind my going into cow farming.

``Five cows can yield a minimum of 50 litres of milk. 20 cows can yield more than a drum of milk daily and it is sold at about N500 000.

``I will like to go into milk production,’’ Okparaeke added.

He said the cows were sold and could be slaughtered at their abattoir for buyers who wish, adding that they also run cold room services.

``I retain three veterinary doctors to cover the farm so as to ensure that my livestock stay healthy,’’ Okparaeke said.

He noted that the cows were ranched as his company produces feeds for the livestock adding that palm fronds were got from the farm to add to the cow's feed.

``We produce the feed for our livestock by ourselves as part of the Eagle Foods Processing Industry Ltd., here in Umuchu. We do not sell the animal feeds but use them to feed our livestock.

``The idea is to cut our cost of production and to ensure quality and profitability.’’

Apart from cow breeding, he said he was also into pig rearing and poultry farming and that both had been progressive.

``Currently, we have in excess of 85,000 birds that lay eggs and not less than 20,000, yet to start laying eggs.

``I started my poultry farm in 1980 with 50 birds, though 13 died leaving me with only 37. But so far, I have recorded tremendous progress.

Okparaeke runs five other farms apart from his Umuchu farm, three at Imo state and the other two within the state.

He has won not less than 37 awards locally and internationally.

The awards include the Central Bank of Nigeria Award of Excellence as the best state farmer (Poultry) for the year 2007.

Others are the National Productivity Merit Award (NPOM) from the Presidency in August 2013, and, most recently, the Best Entrepreneurial Award by the Aguata (LGA) May, 2018. (MOI)