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By Professor Philip Makama Dawuda, DVM (ABU), MSc. (ABU), PhD (Scotland, UK), MBA (Scotland, UK)

Department of Veterinary Surgery and Theriogenology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Benue State, Nigeria

Current Address: Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture, National University of Lesotho, P.O. Roma 180, Maseru, Lesotho, Southern Africa. Email:;;

The demand for dairy products especially fresh milk is increasing day by day in Nigeria. This demand has outpaced the production capacity of the Nigerian local breeds of dairy cows. The drivers for this high demand for fresh milk are (i) increase in birth rates with (ii) concurrent decrease in death rates, (iii) increase life expectancy (life longevity), (iv) increase in the number of infant milk formula producers, (v) increase in number of women in the work force and (vi) increase disposable income. These drivers have synergistic effects on one another thereby making it impossible for the Nigerian local so-called dairy cow to supply adequate fresh milk to meet this high demand. It is true that there is a high population of local cattle spread all over Nigeria leading to the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers in almost all the 36 states of Nigeria including the FCT. The milk production of these indigenous cows is very low mostly due to their low genetic code for milk production.  No matter the level of improved nutrient intake and animal welfare/care, these cows have been capped genetically at a very low spectrum of milk yield. A recent survey published by global packing company Tetra Pak (2015) projected Africa to see an increase of more than 50 percent in milk consumption as a result of the above stated demographic drivers, growing from 15 billion liters in 2010 to almost 25 billion liters by 2020. The disturbing question that seeks an answer is “will African countries be able to supply these high volumes of milk?” Specifically, “will Nigeria be able to supply enough milk to meet this high demand in 2020?” This is why we need a remodeling strategy for our Nigerian dairy industry in terms of proper upgrading of their genetic potential for milk production. We can now afford to shift from the so-called local dairy cows that are genetically at the lower end of the ladder for milk production to a ‘real’ dairy cow that is at least at the median position of the league table for high milk producing cows.  Nigeria can then be proud to be among the African countries that will meet this phenomenal growth by the year 2020. We, the Nigerians have talked too much on this topic through numerous professional workshops, seminars and conferences and yet nothing substantial to show that we have progressed a step further than where we were 20-30 years ago. We seem to be infected with a virulent virus of just “talk-the-talk” but do not “walk-the-walk” syndrome.

Milk consumption in Africa is currently the lowest in the whole world i.e. 37 litres per capita annually, which is 67 litres below the world average of 104 litres per capita annually. This accounts only for 6% of world consumption despite the fact that African human population accounts for 16.41% of the world population of 7.6 billion ( In order to bridge this gully, Nigeria and other African countries have embarked on importation of milk products such as UHT products and powdered milk. This practice will invariably plunge us more and more into deep waters of economic wastage since the stated demographic drivers for milk demand continue to increase geometrically every 10 years. For example, in West Africa, some countries such as Nigeria, Mali and Niger are importing dairy milk products worth between USD 13 million – USD 30 million annually which negatively impact on national economy balance sheet while positively impact on foreign countries economy balance sheet. We must react to this ugly/deadly situation. The dairy subsector, if scientifically and properly remodeled, it will provide employment and training for our youths – especially the females and males of the Fulani race that are full-time in the dairy industry. Also, the collateral downstream industries such as milk processors, marketers/sales personnel, dairy feed millers, etc. etc. will be stimulated to grow and employ more youth workforce. Indeed, the dairy industry will contribute immensely to the socio-politico-economic stability of Nigeria and Africa at large. If we don’t strategically remodel our Nigerian dairy industry NOW, then this current practice of erratic importation of milk/milk products and even the importation of live dairy cows into Nigeria will continue unabated because it is geared only towards solving the “today’s problem” rather than the “tomorrow’s problem” i.e. the geometric increase of our population every 10 -20 years.

It is an established fact that our indigenous cows produce around 200 litres of milk per cow per year (ILCA Annual Report, 1995), compared to over 12,500 litres per dairy cow per year in most developed countries. This difference is outrageous (i.e. about 2 dairy cows in developed countries can produce milk that is equivalent to the milk produce by 120 Nigerian indigenous cows!!!!!). Unless we strategically remodel our local dairy industry now and quickly too we will ever remain an importer of milk and other dairy products as a nation for a very long time to come.

Suggested solution

A strategic remodeling solution is advocated: For a very long time (more than five decades) we have embarked on crossbreeding in Nigeria. However, the current strategy is beclouded by some limiting factors such as (i) poor understanding of reproductive endocrinology that controls optimal fertility of the dairy cow; (ii) a poor understanding/application of the exogenous reproductive hormones that control fertility of the dairy cow; (iii) a lack of a crop of experienced dairy scientists/theriogenologists/reproductive endocrinologists; (iv) a lack of a visionary national framework  on how to genetically upgrade our so-called Nigerian dairy cow and/or (vi) lack of a firm/proper enforcement of the implementation model of this framework at a national level through legislations.  I am advocating that Nigeria must aim at producing its own dairy cows through a strategic crossbreeding programme using artificial insemination technology at a national level by incorporating the over 19 million heads of cattle owned by the nomadic cattle rearers. This will lead to the production of hybrid offspring for milk production of 50% (F1), 75% (F2), 87.5%(F3), 93.75%(F4), 96.88%(F5), 98.40%(F6), 99.12(F7), 99.51(F8), etc. etc. (see Fig. 1) that are of high genetic potential for milk production right here in Nigeria rather than the current “quick-fit” solution of bizarre importation of live in-calve (pregnant) dairy cows from  temperate countries that have sub-zero temperatures to tropical countries like Nigeria that have temperatures between 20-450C at the same time laden with deadly tropical diseases especially cowdriosis (heartwater) the instant killer disease of exotic cattle. Definitely these animals will die within a period of 2-3 years. Another bad practice is that the crossbreeding is also carried out by semi-knowledgeable and untrained personnel supported. It is obvious that the conception rate will definitely be low. The remodeling of our dairy cow through strategic crossbreeding is not new; it has been in existence for many decades. However, we still lack (i) the expertise in applying the correct and effective strategy to achieve higher results and (ii) we lack adequate financing and appropriate utilization of funds to achieve higher results. If these drawbacks are addressed promptly and properly, we will go a long way in solving this problem. The hybrid dairy cows (crossbred cows) that have 50% or less of the local maternal genes can still resist tropical diseases, heat stress and high feed conversation efficiency to a manageable extend. It also has 50% or more of the temperate paternal genetic composition for high milk yield. This type of hybrid will produce between 2,400 – 4,500 litres of milk per cow annually compared to the 200 litres produce per cow annually by our so-called pure bred local dairy cow (see Figure1).

To achieve this feat in a national scale, various stakeholders must come together and form various levels of partnerships to properly address this problem. Such stakeholders are (i) Federal Government/State governments/Local governments (ii) Philanthropists (iii) NGOs, (iv) Businessmen/women and (v) Institutions of higher learning. In short, alliances of Public-Public Partnerships or Public-Private Partnerships or Private-Private Partnerships can be forged to achieve our goal. For example, a Private-Private Partnership was adopted by Integrated Dairies Limited (IDL) Vom-Jos, Plateau State – the producers of Farm Fresh yoghurt/other dairy products and the MTN Foundation in 2007 (I was the Team Leader of that partnership tagged “Milk Flow Project”). The programme registered high success rates among the settled Fulanis in Bokkos (Plateau State), Bauchi (Bauchi State) and Ladduga (Kaduna State). The programme was also extended to non-Fulani cattle farmers in the 3 states. The beneficiaries ranged from large non-Fulani cattle farmers to small scale cattle farmers that owned as few as 1, 2 or 3 cows were incorporated into the scheme. The programme was a holistic one aimed at benefitting all cattle farmers irrespective of race or social status. This is the vision of the Chairman of Integrated Dairies Limited (Farm Fresh) Vom-Jos Plateaus State – Rtd AVM I.A. Shekarri to economically empower the smaller dairy farmers irrespective of race or tribe by formation of partnerships between public or private sector. See some of the photographs of dairy animals through many years of a strategic remodeling of crossbreeding using artificial insemination (AI) in IDL Vom-Jos, Plateau State (Plate I, II & III, IV & V). The scientific process of this crossbreeding through A.I. is schematically illustrated in diagram 1 & 2. At this juncture, I will suggest that there should be formation of strong and active partnerships between some successful dairy processors and other private/NGOs or government organs. Currently, there are some successful private dairy processors in Nigeria such as L & Z Integrated Dairy Farm Kano, Kano State; Integrated Dairies Limited Vom-Jos, Plateau State; Nagari Integrated Dairy Farm, Keffi, Nasarawa State; Sabore Integrated Dairy Farm, Yola, Adamawa Sate and many others that I may not know should form such partnerships. We expect that such programmes will produce superior crossbreds of F1, F2, F3, etc. etc. Our major aim in using this strategic remodeling of the Nigerian dairy industry through various partnerships is to boost the milk yield at a national level. This will improve the level of income in the dairy industry especially the income of the small-scale farmers at the rural communities so that they can lift their families and communities out of abject poverty by increasing the level of their disposable income.

In order to facilitate the achievement the aim of this remodeling strategy in a community that is densely populated by cattle owners (Fulanis and/or Non-Fulanis), it is advisable to organize the cattle owners into co-operative groups. Each cooperative group with at least 100 cows from 5-10 family (see Fig. 2). Each cooperative group will have a leader who will help to organize his group for a sensitization programme. This programme will highlight the benefits of the programme and the role of the cooperative members which is crucial for the success of the programme. Arrangement for visits by the leaders of each cooperative group to one of the established dairy farm that has crossbreds from the artificial insemination programme. During this visit the leaders will be shown the quantity of milk per cow per day and allow them to compare with their own cows.  Also it must be pointed out that any person that joins the cooperative will be assisted in so many ways such as: (i) vaccines availability at the controlled price and also carry out the vaccination for free, (ii) Sourcing for feed concentrates such as cotton seed cake or groundnut seed cake at controlled price, (iii) Sourcing for quality salt licks blocks at controlled price, (iv) on-farm/on-job training of youths especially ladies on simple disease detection and reporting, simple medication especially wound dressing and other first aid, milk hygiene and simple animal welfare/care techniques, etc. etc.

Presenting this broad spectrum of benefits, most Fulanis and other cattle owners will be enticed to accept the A.I. Programme with little resistance. They will most likely accept whatever role they have to play to make the programme a success. It is this trust that is fundamental in the initial strategic remodeling of our dairy industry in Nigeria. After the initial phase with the first batch of cooperative groups, the second batch will be a bit easier because, members of the first cooperative groups will help spread the benefit of the programme through social meetings and in market squares. The key success factors are: (i) to carry out the programme consistently and persistently, (ii) honestly and (iii) with a kind heart of love for the client/customer.









PLATE I. Crossbred calves i.e. their blood has 50% Friesian blood (genes) & 50% local Bunaji Cow blood (genes). (Courtesy: IDL Vom)


PLATE II. Crossbred bull i.e. its blood has 50% Friesian blood (genes) and 50% local Bunaji Cow blood (genes). (Courtesy: IDL Vom)



PLATE III. A mobile milking machine – facilitates faster milking of crossbred dairy cows  (Courtesy of IDL Vom). Milk obtained from just 1 croessbred cow



PLATE IV: Crossbred Dairy Cows – waiting to be milked using an automated milking parlour – see PLATE V for details working operation of this parlour (Courtesy of IDL Vom)


PLATE V. Some of the crossbred dairy cows being milked at the same time in a semi-automated milking parlour ( Courtesy of IDL Vom).

The livestock industry in Nigeria is a complex setup especial the cattle subsector. It is complex in a sense that it is completely intertwined into the fabrics of human existence. It also requires heavy financing and the gestation period is very long for inventors to break-even (between 8-10 years of inception). At the traditional point of view, the traditional owners of cattle (the Fulanis) who are mainly nomadic in practice, numerical numbers of their cattle is their major objectives rather than the quality and their cattle serves as a major security (economic and socio-cultural security). In order for us to succeed with a remodeling intervention strategy, we have to take into cognizance of these factors. This makes this remodeling strategy more difficult to achieve among these Fulanis who own over 90% of cattle in Nigeria. It is worth mentioning here that the Fulani cattle contribute about 30% of the National Agricultural GDP and about 3.2% of the National GDP. We must not lose this significant contribution to our GDP! Nigeria has a cattle population of over 19million, and if this huge population is properly remodel towards increase milk production, importation of milk and milk production will become a historical topic. Until we are able to break through into the Fulanis socio-cultural lifestyle and then incorporate them and their cattle into our remodeling strategy we cannot confidently assure ourselves that we are on the pathway of success yet. Peripheral pockets of crossbreeding programmes here and there using artificial insemination (AI) are good but not the best because they are as drops of water in the ocean. Until the Fulanis’ cattle are patiently and painstakingly integrated into a strategic remodeling of a national crossbreeding programme we will remain a nation that will import milk and milk products for a very long time. The Fulanis need to settle in one place either in colonies or ranches (same thing) so that a remodeling of their cattle through crossbreeding can easily be adopted. With their nomadic lifestyle, it becomes impossible to achieve our national objective of being self-reliance in terms of milk production.

The success story of the partnership between the Integrated Dairies Limited Vom and the MTN Foundation was successful mainly because the Fulanis were settled in their thousands in one place in (i) Bokkos, Plateaus State, (ii) Bauchi, Bauchi State and (iii) Ladduga, Kaduna State. There is a need for us to be able to detect viable economic projects in Nigeria and follow them to conclusion. We are all losers when a good course has been abandoned due to selfish motives.


Advantages of creating cattle ranches or colonies:

  1. Clashes between Fulani nomads and crop farmers will become history (we will begin to see ourselves as “our brothers’ or sisters’ keepers” rather than “our brothers’ or sisters’ killers”.
  2. More human interactions will take place between the Fulani cattle herders and crop farmers. Distrust and mistrust will gradually disappear.
  3. Veterinary services and other animal care can be concentrated in one place for easy delivery
  4. Crossbreeding through mass AI can easily be organized.
  5. Human medical facilities and other socio-economic activities can easily be adopted for the entire community
  6. Schools can easily be established from primary to tertiary institutions
  7. Socio-political activities can easily be organized among the Fulanis
  8. Easier integration of the nomadic Fulani race into the socio-economic fabrics of the Nigerian society
  9. More milk processing plants will spring up at or close to the ranches to access milk supply
  10. Reduction of poverty level among the nomadic Fulanis by increasing their disposable income through sales of high quantities and quality of milk from crossbred cows.
  11. Formation of co-operative societies between dairy farmers and crop farmers for easier marketing and sales relationships. Credit facilities and banking facilities can easily be established to boost commercial activities
  12. Building of trust between settled Fulanis and other ethnic groups in and around the ranches. They begin to see themselves with one main complementary objective i.e. “improvement of their socio-economic standard of livelihood”.
  13. Transformation of the national economy through the livestock subsector. Milk and milk products and even the collateral beef production industry and fodder production industry will increase. This is due to the high number and quality of crossbred bulls and improved quality of pasture production. These will be produced in commercial quantities due to the vast acreage and financial inputs.
  14. Faster growth of animals, better health conditions of animals, improve animal welfare, etc. etc. as a result of a sedentary lifestyle that conserves energy and reduces the risks of acquisition of debilitating diseases such as trypanosomiasis, tuberculosis, brucellosis, ectoparasitic infestation, gastro-intestinal parasites, etc. etc.


Disadvantages of creating cattle ranches or colonies:

  1. Most of the land in Nigeria are owned by crop farmers which is an inheritance that is handed onto the following generation by their ancestors from generation to generation. It is therefore, not right to forcefully acquire this land from the crop farmers. These farmlands serve as their financial security for themselves and their generation yet unborn. We had good news from the Minister of Agriculture (Chief Audu Ogbeh) that 16 states have VOLUNTEERED to donate land for the ranching programme. This development will go a long way in solving the problem of the fear of crop farmers losing their farm lands to cattle ranches.
  2. Increase in population of the Fulanis and their cattle will eventually need more and more land which may not be easily available.
  3. The establishment of cattle ranches or colonies is capital intensive and may require the formation of various forms of partnerships to make it succeed. The more the number of stakeholders the better the chances of success.
  4. Conflict among the Fulanis that are from different sub-cultural family backgrounds may be anticipated. This may not be too serious to handle if proper integration programme for all the Fulanis is in place.
  5. Fulanis from other West African countries will flood our country also claiming to be Nigerian Fulanis. The population may become outrageous and difficult to manage at some point. Nigeria might become densely populated by Fulanis that are not actually Nigerians. At that point, can we really provide enough ranches for them? This is a problem area that we need to start thinking of the solution right now before starting the ranching scheme. For example, we may begin to fortify our porous borders.

In Conclusion:

  1. Location of ranches. Establishment of cattle ranches must be looked at very closely so as to devoid it from political strangulations. With the establishment of cattle ranches, the crossbreeding remodeling strategy we are advocating for, will have a huge chance of success and hence improvement in milk production and other collateral activities/benefits. There is good news filtering in from the Minister of Agriculture (Chief Audu Ogbe) that some 16 states have embraced the ranching proposal. It is worth mentioning here that in each of these states, the main and critical factor that needs to be addressed thoroughly is that of location of ranches within each interested state. Location of ranches – In each state where these ranches are proposed, at least 3 or more different locations may be considered. Location is critical so as not to disadvantage other people in the state from the above stated advantages of these inter-relationships with the now settled nomadic Fulanis. It will also reduce the pressure on the acquisition of too large hecterage of land within one spot which may affect the availability of farm lands needed by crop farmers within that vicinity. The successful handling of location of ranches in these 16 states will determine whether other states will join this “train” or those already in the “train” will disembark.


  1. Establishment of a National Institute of Dairy Technology (NIDT). In order to carter for the needs of these ranches especially dairy production, it is very important to establish a National Institute of Dairy Technology (NIDT) where dairy scientists will be trained. Currently, we lack dairy scientists in Nigeria and therefore, the dairy industry in Nigeria lacks professional/scientific support. If these ranches are established and milk production is boosted, the dairy farmers will be in dire need of dairy scientists. Some of the current Nigerian dairy farmers have resorted to importation of dairy scientists from outside the country at a very high financial cost. The NIDT is long overdue and we need to look into its establishment as a matter of urgency. Currently, we are very fortunate to have the tripartite national livestock establishments concentrated within one location i.e. (i) the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI) VOM, (ii) the National College of Animal Health Technology and Husbandry Vom and (iii) the highly successful Integrated Dairies Limited (IDL) Vom (a private dairy farm/processing dairy company owned by rtd AVM Shekarri) which are all situated on the same site (Vom) with vast arable land. We also have an advantage of the presence of a Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Jos. These three establishments will provide a hub with manpower, dairy animals and machineries for an easier take off by making such facilities available for both theoretical and practical training of dairy scientists.



Professor Philip Makama Dawuda had over 13 years of experience in research and extension services in Artificial Insemination (A.I.) at the National Animal Production Research Institute, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria (NAPRI/ABU) Zaria. Prof. Dawuda is one of the team of pioneers of A.I. Services in Nigeria. He was awarded a Commonwealth scholarship for his PhD training in reproductive Endocrinology/Nutrition of dairy and beef cattle in Scotland, UK. He also obtained a management degree (MBA) from Scotland, UK. He worked in the UK for over 16 years at various positions including the Royal Veterinary College Potters Bar, University of London where he worked a Research Scientist. He was also one of the veterinary doctors that were involved in the control of the dreaded Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak that threatened the livestock industry in the United Kingdom in 2001. Prof. Dawuda was General Manager of the Integrated Dairies Limited (IDF) Vom Jos – the producers of Farm Fresh yoghurt and other milk products for 3 years. He was also the Managing Director of Mega Canaan Farms Limited Bara, Jema’a LGA, Kaduna State for 3 years. Dawuda is a professor of Theriogenology at the Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi, Benue State.  However, he is currently on a 1 year sabbatical leave at the National University of Lesotho, P.O. Roma 180, Maseru, Lesotho, Southern Africa. Professor Dawuda’s many years of both local and international experience on cattle reproduction and crossbreeding through artificial insemination (A.I.) has placed him on a strong pedestal position as a catalyst and strategist for effective development of a viable and self-reliant dairy industry of Nigeria.

  Previous Newspaper publication on the Nigerian Dairy Industry:

  1. “The Dairy Industry in Nigeria: No better opportunity than now”. Leadership Daily Newspaper Abuja Nigeria. Article serialized on the 19th & 26th April and 3rd May, 2008.