James Emejo in Abuja
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, yesterday said the country’s over N30 trillion assets in livestock had been neglected by both the public and private sectors.
He added that though the sector contributes 17 per cent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), “it is not being taken seriously both by the private and public sectors.”
Speaking during the formal launch of the Advancing Local Dairy Development in Nigeria (ALDDN) programme, which was developed by Sahel Consulting Agriculture and Nutrition Limited, a leading management consulting firm, the minister said the federal government is currently focused on the development of the livestock sector. He added that it would consolidate all existing livestock policies into one policy in order to transform the sector.
ALDDN is a five-year dairy development plan (2020–2024), which seeks to catalyse a vibrant local dairy sector in an inclusive way that improves the livelihoods, productivity, nutrition and empowerment of smallholder women dairy farmers and the communities in which they live.
Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ALDDN would reach 60,000 dairy farmers in 15,000 dairy households in Adamawa, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano and Plateau states.
The programme would be implemented in partnership with private sector companies with the support of the federal ministries of agriculture and rural development, health, women affairs and social development, and the governments of the implementing states.
The Country Director, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Paul Basinga, said the project represented one of its biggest investments in the country, adding that the launch represented “one big step” for Nigeria.
He pointed out that the dairy sector development could further boost the country’s human development index.
Basinga also indicated that the Work Health Organisation (WHO) could actually declare Nigeria and other countries polio-free, after an upcoming evaluation in July, attributing the success to the foundation’s partnership with the federal government in the quest to eradicate the disease.
However, Nanono said the federal government would support the dairy initiative and other related interventions to develop the sector as this would reduce dairy foreign importation.
He said the livestock sector represented an important national asset which has the potential to create value, aid economic diversification agenda of the present administration, as well as reduce poverty.
However, he noted that understanding the culture of the nomadic communities were critical for the success of livestock interventions going forward.
ALDDN National Team Leader, Sahel Consulting, Mr. Ernest Ihedigbo, in his remarks, said the programme was aimed at increasing the milk yield of 75,000 cows from 15,000 dairy households by at least 30 per cent, resulting in the production of about 190,000 litres of milk per day at the end of the programme.
He added that it would further increase dairy farmers’ access to quality feed and fodder for their cows, through the development of a network of farmers with access to land to establish sustainable and thriving fodder production businesses.
Ihedigbo noted that the intervention would also improve farmers’ access to veterinarians, drugs, and vaccines, building the capacity of and connecting qualified animal health providers to participating farmers through the processors and the cooperatives for annual vaccine campaigns and similar services.
He said in order to progressively improve the genetic stock for improved milk yield, ALDDN would build the capacity of Artificial Insemination (AI) technicians to inseminate 8,000 cows and provide AI services to farmers.