Say blueprint will save $1.8bn in annual milk importation
By James Emejo
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono; his counterpart in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Niyi Adebayo, as well as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, yesterday expressed optimism that the emergence of the proposed National Dairy Policy, will save the country about $1.8 billion in annual importation of milk and dairy products and reduce pressure on foreign exchange as well as boost job creation.
The trio, who spoke at the opening of a two-day wider stakeholders’ engagement on the draft National Dairy Policy in Abuja, pointed out that the document would also boost the economic diversification agenda of the present administration.
Emefiele said the CBN remained “deeply interested in seeing the emergence of a vibrant private sector- driven dairy sector in Nigeria”.
Represented by his Special Adviser on Development Finance, Mr. Anthony Ifechukwu, the CBN governor, particularly noted that he would want to see a situation where the country would save the $1.8 billion currently spent on milk importation and channel same into other aspects of the economy to boost growth and job creation.
He added that the apex bank “will ensure the dairy policy works because we have started the journey already”.
On his part, Adebayo, said the dairy sector had been identified as one of the critical sectors that would support government’s economic diversification initiatives.
He said while estimated annual milk production stood at 672 million litres compared to 1.2 million litres in annual demand, available information suggested that the country has a cattle stock of over 20 million cows, pointing out that only 2.3 million cows are utilised for large scale dairy production.
Represented by Deputy Director, Industrial Development Department, Mrs. Achinam Fidel, Adebayo said the government was ready to address impediments in the upstream, midstream and downstream dairy value chain to boost its growth potentials.
He clarified that the essence of the proposed policy was not to puncture the successes so far recorded in the sector but rather strengthen it, adding that the dairy blueprint is consistent with the Nigerian Industrial Development Plan (NIDP).
However, Nanono, said the Nigerian dairy industry is largely subsistence and consisted of local milk production, importation, processing, marketing and consumption.
The minister said the consumption of aggregated and bulked milk was less than 20 per cent of the local potential, adding that Nigeria’s milk production accounted for only 13 per cent of West African production and only about 0.01 per cent of global dairy output.
He expressed regrets that the long neglect of the livestock sector had put a lot of burden on the country’s import bills.
According to him, the gap between supply and demand for dairy products had continued widen as a result of increase in population and urbanisation.
Nanono said the per capita consumption of milk is eight litres per year representing an abysmally low consumption levels when compared with the global averages of 44 litres of milk.
He said following increasing recognition of the nutritional and livelihood importance of milk and other dairy products in our country, there had been renewed interest in the development of the dairy sector, given the need to harness its potentials, address contemporary critical socio-economic and national herd management issues.