Mr Idi Murkhtar, a Commercial farmer and Managing Director, Zaidi Farms Ltd, Kaduna, has called on the Federal Government to establish National Livestock Development Authority (NALDA) to meet the nation’s growing demand for beef and dairy products.
Mukhtar, who made the call in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency on Wednesday in Kaduna, said, NALDA should be mandated to overhaul, regulate and ensure faster growth of the entire livestock sector.
The age-long pastoralism system is no longer sustainable.It is unproductive, it is crises prone. Nigeria must change.
Urgent national attention is required to completely transform the livestock sector politically, economically and socially.
Institutional changes and legal reforms are critical to achieving the transformation and development in the dairy sector,” he said.
He said the creation of NALDA would attract both local and foreign investors, create jobs and drive national self sufficiency in dairy and dairy products.
Mukthar noted that the creation of NALDA would bridge the gap of the annual national demand of the 1.3 billion liters of milk annually.
He said Nigerians would equally tap from the employment opportunities and enable skilled, abundant cheap labour through public, private partnership that would enhance faster growth of the sector.
Nigeria has a population dynamics of 200 million people with 42.3 per cent young adults, while 50 per cent live in urban areas.
He said the prospects were enormous, with 131 ruminant resources in addition to abundant land, water resources and favorable climate.
Murkhtar said the agency should also address current challenges faced by the diary and livestock industry.
He listed the challenges as: incoherent policy implementation, poor funding by state and local governments and poor extension services from agricultural agencies.
“The sector also faces challenges of inadequate power and rural infrastructure, insecurity, low genetic potential of indigenous cattle, disease outbreak due to poor veterinary and animals health system. ”
He explained that the challenges if left unaddressed could have a negative impact on the nation’s diary sector.
The farmer said addressing the challenges would fast track the potential in the Nation’s 22 million cattle population which are yet to be fully realized.
“It will also address the continuous movement of livestock in search for greener pasture every one kilometer burning about 12 kilo-calories of their energy.“
He further said that the country would only compete favorably with the top African milk producers such as Kenya and South Africa who are leaders in milk production.
Top African Milk producers and cattle population: Kenya 18 million, 4 million pure breed milk with 3.4 billion liters of milk per year.
South Africa 14 million all dairy with 3.2 billion liters of milk per year, while Nigeria with 22 million cattle with only 2,000 pure breed producing 560 million liters of milk annually.
We must also select and upgrade local dairy breeds of cattle through artificial insemination, cross breeding and embryo transfer .
This will result into the development of national dairy breeds with superior performance traits.
There should also be livestock breeding centers (LBC) in each geo-political zones to propagate genetically improved breeds and license genuine imports and importation of life animals to meet defined national needs.
We must also develop and enhance the capacity of pastoralists through the provision of quality extension services and a developed national dairy value chain aligned to the regional, national and continental needs.
“This would address problems of productivity, processing capacity, trade barriers, access to market information and facilitate private participation in commercial fodder production for small and medium scale dairy producers. ”
He said the agency should ensure strict implementation of statutes in the ECOWAS transhumance control to national advantage and to enforce transhumance entry and exit documentations.
It should ensure massive improvement in logistics and rural infrastructure, pasture cultivation, rural roads, electric or solar cooling tanks,” he said.
Murkhtar said the agency should equally ensure creation and sustenance of efficient milk collection centers, milk evacuation trucks, facilitate market information and market access.
The agency, he noted, should ensure favorable milk price system; good producer, off-taker relations, scale up smallholder capacity, knowledge and skills related to good animal husbandry practices.
Corperatise pastoralists to serve as nucleus for milk production and marketing.
The farmer said NALDA, if created should be mandated to work with reputable partners to develop strategic dairy value chain.
He noted that the federal ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development had so far over concentrated on crops/agronomy to the detriment of the nation’s livestock, leaving over 131 million ruminants with no home.
He said NALDA should be saddled with the responsibility of developing pasture seeds, ensuring animal health, quality products and services, quality water and pasture, as well as providing farm equipment.
Murkhtar said the agency should be saddled with the responsibility to facilitate cheap finance and credits for livestock farmers.
The government should ensure effective disseminating reproduction information and technology, and security of farmers and their livestock.
Government should also facilitate and regulate milking parlors, milking machines, standard fencing materials, efficient milk aggregation and transportation system, diary super markets among others,” he added.