By GIDADO IBRAHIM |
In most advanced economies, intellectual powerhouses are revered because of their ability to chart a roadmap for economic and social recovery and prosperity in many sectors of the country. One of such intellectual warhorses in Nigeria is the Executive Secretary of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) Prof Suleiman Elias Bogoro.
Apart from rekindling the hope that all is not lost for Nigeria, Prof Bogoro has become a springboard for a new thinking pattern in the country. Since his reinstatement as the helmsman of TETFund by President Muhammadu Buhari, he has never left anyone in doubt as to the inherent ability of Nigeria to join the league of developed nations if ideas, strategies and roadmap like the ones he lays out every now and then are faithfully and painstakingly implemented.
One outstanding character that stands Prof Bogoro out as intellectual gargantuan is his ability to link theory to practicals or implementable action steps that would have spiral positive effects on the national economy.
Since his appointment, he has through scientific study evolved a thinking pattern that seeks to move scientific research and outcomes from gathering dust on the shelves of our higher institutions to the real sector where they are needed.
Through symposiums, conferences and Lectures, Prof Bogoro has consistently laid out his vision for a transformed Nigeria through relevant research. It was at one of such foras, “Arewa at 50” that he, in an explosive lecture, laid bare the path to recovery of the lost glory of the North in the education sector.
Recently, Prof Bogoro was at it again. This time around, he reeled out what could best be described as ‘Marshall Plan” for research into the nation’s livestock sector. In that Lecture, “Reclaiming Nigeria’s Laggard Livestock Subsector: A Modern Dairy Value Chain in Perspective,” which formed part of the 9th annual joint meeting of the Animal Science Association of Nigeria (ASAN) and Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NAIS).
Nigeria is home to a 200million strong market, which should make it a leader in the milk and dairy sector. The global dairy market reached a value of $718.9billion in 2019, hence Prof Bogoro’s call for redoubling of efforts. He revealed in that Lecture that there are about 142 derivatives from dairy Value Chains. He is of the view that deepening research on the value addition development will invariably expand the Nigerian dairy value chains.
Apart from fresh, evaporated and powdered milk, Fura and Nunu, including yoghurt are the dairy products we have ventured into in Nigeria. In line with Prof Bogoro’s ardent belief in linking research to business, he admitted that there is huge potential in dairy products value addition to create new enterprises capable of solving unemployment problems facing the teeming youths of the country.
The real value of any initiative is in its ability to solve problems. For Prof Bogoro, every initiative must be linked to real time problem solving. What is more incisive than his call on Food Scientists to fashion a way of including locally made dairy products in the federal government Home Grown School Feeding Programme?
He admitted that to boost diary production and bring Nigeria at par with its counterparts globally, the tree pillars of nutrition, husbandry and health management requires multidisciplinary research intervention. He harped on the need for innovations on dairy production, at least cost and optimal yields where climate smartness is an additional feature globally.
The Lecture was explosive and held the audience spellbound as he identified some of the problems plaguing the sector in Nigeria to low productivity. At the moment, Nigeria accounts for less than 10% of the global dairy market. And even at that, products from Nigerian dairy market are not allowed into western market due to low quality products, occasioned by the exorbitant cost of training local farmers. He said poor postharvest handling and inadequate access to improved processing technologies, insufficient marketing systems, highly subsidized imported milk products make it difficult for local farmers to compete favourably.
According to Prof Bogoro, due to concatenation of factors already identified, most of the milk produced within the country does not get into the organised processing and marketing chains.
These trends must change if Nigeria must muster enough energy to take a deep bite of the US$ 718.9billion annual global dairy market. He then suggested more investments and subsidies into the sector to enable local farmers acquire the necessary skills, technologies for quality processing, etc.
Some of the common mulch animals include cow, goat, buffalo, camel and sheep. The milk obtained from these animals can be consumed directly and processed into ice cream, cheese, butter, condensed milk and yogurt. These products offer various nutrients such as calcium, proteins, zinc, magnesium, and vitamin D and B12. With widespread demand for dairy products and their proactive function in the global food industry, dairy plays a crucial role in the growth of the economies worldwide.
Over the years, the dairy industry has witnessed improvements in product safety through specialization, modernization and consolidation. Moreover, advancements in global trade have also influenced the profitability of dairy farms.
Prof Bogoro’s submission borders on how the livestock sector can harness the opportunities abound there in, especially the production and effective management of dairy products, to boost the country’s economy.
Summing it up, he said, “The challenges in the dairy subsector in Nigeria should be seen as an opportunity for the producers and all actors across the value chains nodes to appropriately respond otherwise it will be business as usual where Nigeria will be a dumping site of powdered milk and other processed dairy products from the global community leading to increased avoidable capital flight.
“Reclaiming the laggardness in Nigeria’s livestock sector will definitely require new approaches where research and development is mainstream into the policy issues and production practices with focus on global competitiveness. Development of “fit for purpose” elite dairy bred for Nigeria’s climate is the first step in the right direction.
“The availability of emerging biotechnologies in the areas of whole genome sequencing and assisted reproductive techniques will provide the platform for the expected paradigm shift. Within the context of a well-coordinated national livestock breeding program that enlists all categories of dairy farmers in Nigeria, deployment of proven technologies that are accessible, affordable and adaptive can be achieved for the overall growth of the sub sector.
“Fast tracking the completion and signing of the National Livestock breeding policy with ensure better institutional arrangement and regulatory framework for the practices of livestock (dairy) breeding including investment in the development of cattle breeder farms in Nigeria in line with global best practices.
“Interventions that will rapidly alleviate “dairy poverty” in Nigeria which presently average at a meagre 8 litres per head per annum translating to 0.022 litres per head per day (a national shame) must be prioritized. This laggardness and unacceptable statusquo requires the strategic intervention of this body of experts and am very sure we can change the narrative. This is the only way posterity will judge us right!”
All these suggestions by Prof Bogoro are part of the Next Level Agenda of President Buhari encapsulated in a Lecture that will serve as a reference point for stakeholders in the livestock sector. This is what the TETFund boss has come to epitomize: a sole think tank devoted to political, social and economic integration, providing advice and constructive ideas on specific political and economic problems in all spheres of the Nigerian system.
–Ibrahim is director, Communication and Strategic Planning, of the Presidential Support Committee (PSC).