KEYNOTE ADDRESS DELIVERED BY THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT, CHIEF AUDU OGBEH, OFR, AT THE RETREAT ON LIVESTOCK AND DAIRY DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA, HELD AT MUSA YAR’ ADUA CENTRE, ABUJA, ON 7TH TO 8TH JUNE, 2016
It is a great pleasure for me to be with you all at this retreat on Livestock and Dairy Development in Nigeria which is holding at a time when Nigeria is yearning for additional revenue and opportunities to augment the dwindling economy of the country. This year retreat theme “Setting An Agenda for Commercializing Livestock and Dairy in Nigeria”, with Mr. President’s renewed interest in the livestock sector, will provide a platform for dialogue and seek ways to enhance Livestock and Dairy Development in Nigeria.
The Retreat is coming at a critical period in our nation’s history when National Security is threatened by heightened and frequent farmers’/pastoralists’ conflicts; banditry and cattle rustling, resulting in the depletion of our National herd; when National and State Governments are emphasizing the development of Grazing Reserves and Stock Routes as well as embracing Ranching as a panacea for tackling the above scourges.
Nigeria occupies 923,768 km2, located on the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa. Only 40% of Nigeria’s 84 million hectares of arable land is presently cultivated. The country is endowed with good natural supply of water with about 263 billion cubic metres from two of the largest rivers in Africa. Livestock production contributes 6-8% of the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) and 20-25% of the Agricultural GDP.
Agriculture is the main stay of Nigeria’s Economy and the bulk of her labour force is engaged in Agriculture. More importantly, Agriculture dominates the non-oil sector, consistently accounting for about 75% of non-oil export. 70% of the population (170 million) is engaged in one form of Agricultural Enterprise or the other.
Nigeria is endowed with estimated 19.5 million cattle, 72.5 million goats, 41.3 million sheep, 7.1 million pigs, 278,840 camels and 145 million chickens, 11.6 ducks, 2.1 million turkeys, and 974,499 donkeys (National Agricultural Sample Survey, 2011) making the nation the topmost Livestock producer in West Africa.
Despite this huge and robust population of Nigeria livestock enterprise, majority of livestock in Nigeria is kept by subsistence farmers. The gap between actual and expected protein intake among Nigerians continues to widen. The Livestock sub-sector contributes only 5.1% to our National Gross Domestic Project, making Nigeria a net importer of protein food of animal origin.
Our milk production is extremely poor with about 1 litre/cow/day compared to Brazil and Saudi Arabia of 30-40 litre/cow/day. Saudi Arabia produces 4.7million litres of milk daily while Nigeria imports about $1.3 billion worth of milk annually to make up the deficit and I can confidently say your brands alone account for about 70%. This implies that your country is not only self-sufficient in milk production, but you have excess that is exported to other nations. This is a demonstration of the success you have recorded in dairy industry, and the success story is really worth sharing.
The statistics available shows that about 27% of the children in Nigeria are malnourished; this is an unacceptable development which must be checked immediately because the implication both for the present and the future is grievous. We have the understanding that production of eggs, poultry meat, beef, mutton, chevon (goat-meat) and quality milk in adequate quantity is one of the solutions to this and the government is ready to do the needful in this direction. The fact confronting us as a nation at this time is paucity of resources due to economic meltdown. As you may be aware, Nigeria derives about 90% of her revenue from petroleum which is no longer doing well in the world market. This has serious adverse effect on our foreign reserves, thus reducing our ability to import goods and services.
The only alternative left for us is to intensify our efforts on production of what can be produced locally and seek partnership and collaboration with private investors, researchers, financial institutions, Development partners and friendly nations to develop our local capacity. It is my pleasure to inform you that development of livestock and dairy industry occupies a prime position in the agricultural road map of the current administration. The intention is to develop a sustainable livestock and dairy industry.
Currently, our cattle herdsmen are nomadic, trekking very long distances with their cattle in search of pastures and water. Most often than not, we experience herdsmen/farmers’ conflicts and this we must stop. This system affects the quality and quantity of milk as well as beef quality. This primitive system doesn’t allow for any sustainable plan and should be abandoned. Therefore the following steps are being taken:
• Establishment of ranches to be planted with high quality improved tropical grass varieties and quality water. Some of the grass seeds would be imported to Nigeria;
• Cattle Improvement Programme will be aggressively pursued, using artificial insemination;
• Establishment of clusters of dairy farmers which would be equipped with milk collection facilities;
• Capacity building for the dairy farmers;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, you will agree with me that there is ample opportunity for investment in this sector of Nigerian economy. There is much more room for expansion as there exists very much gaps in our livestock and dairy industry.
The goal of this Retreat is to create an enabling environment to attract private sector investment for the development of livestock and dairy sector in Nigeria; that will generate employment and create wealth through Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises (LIFE) and improve sectors’ contribution to foreign earnings and GDP.
Specifically, the Retreat will among others;
i. Review of existing policies to attract private investment and ensure transformation of the Livestock and Dairy sectors in line with the Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises (LIFE) initiative.
ii. Fashion out strategies to increase the quality and quantity of Livestock and dairy products through application of modern techniques and appropriate technologies.
iii. Enhance value added processing and manufacturing along the Livestock commodity value chain for rapid industrialization and rural development.
iv. Develop appropriate distribution mechanism and innovative marketing strategies to increase awareness and stimulate demand for Nigeria’s livestock and dairy products in the domestic and international markets
I therefore assure you that the Federal and State governments are ready to create enabling environments for desiring investors in Nigeria which will contribute to making Nigeria self-sufficient in livestock and dairy production and a net exporter to other West African countries in the nearest future.
Wishing you all happy and successful deliberations
Thank you and God bless.
Chief Audu Ogbeh, OFR