The livestock subsector is experiencing some challenges which have led to a decrease in production volume. In this piece, JULIANA AGBO examines stakeholders’ views on the need to reposition the sector.
The livestock subsector has always been an important component of the Nigerian economy. Despite the importance of the sector, growth in livestock output has been slow in recent times.
In the face of constraints posed by disease and ecological problems, government policies have not been totally successful in introducing or encouraging the development of basic technological and institutional changes necessary to exploit the potential that exists for an efficient growth of the sector.
However, stakeholders are of the opinion that a properly articulated National Livestock Development Plans is a must for the growth and modernisation of the sector.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), in its Africa Sustainable Livestock 2050 report, while stating the opportunities and challenges of the livestock sub-sector, said the coming growth and transformation of the livestock sector will have major consequences on the Nigeria’s society in the next decades.
It stated that the Nigeria’s livestock sector in 2050 depends on the interactions between known factors, including existing long-term policies, strategies and megatrends, uncertain and unpredictable factors, such as consumers’ behaviour and government accountability.
On public health, it noted that the future will be characterised by an increased risks of outbreaks of zoomic diseases including emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases (EIDs), adding that the growing animal and human populations will result in novel interactions between humans, animals and widelife.
While noting that livestock farmers and other actors along the value chains will face expanding business opportunities because of the growing demand for animal source food, it stated that smallholder farmers will find it increasingly challenging to derive a livelihood from livestock, because of increased competition to access scarce natural resources and requirements to meet food safety standards.
According to the report, stakeholders should ensure that policies and programmes effectively deal with emerging infectious diseases and natural resources use along the livestock value chains serving urban areas, adding that it is essential for a sustainable livestock in the future.
Speaking on population growth, FAO’s Country Representative, Suffyan Koroma, said evidences indicate that population growth, urbanisation, industrialisation and rising incomes have already triggered growing demand for animal source foods in Nigeria foods in the country further causing major changes in livestock systems and value chains.
He explained that the ASL 2050 in Nigeria has completed and generated evidence on description and mapping of cattle dairy and poultry production systems; assessment of the contribution of the cattle systems to household livelihoods; assessment of the impacts of the different production systems on the environment.
He said decision makers should consider the emerging challenges of increased risks in zoonotic disease spread and the importance of value chains serving urban and peri-urban areas.
While speaking on the opportunities in livestock sector during a policy round table organised by the Policy advocacy Center of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) recently in Abuja, the ACCI President, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, called on the Federal Government to allow for a well developed livestock value chain masterplan to address security challenges, boost economic prosperity and increase Gross Domestic Product.
LEADERSHIP reports that the policy round table themed: “Developing Sustainable National Livestock Value Chains Master plan,” reviewed the state of livestock sub-sector in Nigeria, conducted analysis of livestock value chain; examined likely challenges in the development chains in the country, and advanced the framework for the making of a national livestock master plan for the nation.
Kayode while noting that the livestock sub-sector is the most neglected in the agriculture sector, urged government to implement the master plan which they have crafted.
He added: “The government must know that the masterplan must succeed when the farmers are integrated into a value chain which is clearly defined.
He said it is an economic sector that must be driven by clear policy of economic, private sector that can empower a lot of people.
“It is our view within the private sector that the livestock sector holds a prime position for wealth creation, employment expansion and GDP growth. We need a truly developed value chain system to be private sector driven. We should learn from our national policy experience that policies driven by the private sector always turn out to be sustainable and successful.
“In the 70s, three value chain policies were adopted and implemented by the government. The maize and poultry chains which were private sector driven succeeded. The cattle chain handled by the states failed. That is why we are here today. If we are to address the cattle chain, we should learn to trust the private sector,” the ACCI President said,” he averred.
Corroborating the ACCI boss, a retired federal director of livestock, Dr Junaidu Maina affirmed that past cattle chain policies failed because stakeholders especially the private sector were excluded from the implementation, advising that the present plan should be subjected to private sector review and analysis.
“The present plan was a product of a conference we organised while in service. But we did not envisage a public sector led implementation plan. We must break down the livestock value chain to the lowest level. This is business and that is the purview of the private sector,” he said.
Dr Maina who is also a consultant to FAO, reiterated the need to intensify the country’s production system.
He added: “The current problem we have is that we are not thinking of moving from the extensive production system to intensive production system.
“Nigeria is number in egg and meat production in Africa, we have a template we must follow and most countries succeeded because of the participation of the private sector.
Another farmer and agriculture specialist, Dr Femi Ajisafe posited that government should allow ranching that is private sector driven which he said can be embarked upon by any farmer from any tribe.
“Livestock business is open to all tribes. You don’t have to do open grazing. You can run a diary farm a feedlot and others with a limited land space. Government should allow private sector livestock entrepreneurs to design and implement the policy. In reality, there is no National Livestock Value Chain plan in Nigeria today. What we have is more or less a political document, the type that has failed us in the past,” Ajisafe said.
Speaking on the objective of livestock development plan, Dr Ajisafe said its objective must be properly stated before going into the plan properly to gradually intensify production.
“We cannot continue with the system we are practising now, and if we are not going to continue with the system of pastoral nomadism, there must be acceptable national policy that all stakeholders must be involved in designing.
“It will not only be that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture or the credit agencies that will design policy that will not be implementable, then look at the issue of land space.
” There are issues we must look, then establish and see the way forward, especially in terms of the intensive system, what I think is that we cannot continue with pastoral nomadism,, all towns are now developed, what the herdsmen used to have as grazing root then has been eroded due to urbanisation,” he averred.
Speaking further he said: “There must be a way out which is intensive cattle rearing, how do we make the pastoralists accept this, that’s the area where credit will come in, and it must be better managed. For us to convince them, there must be a deliberate effort to make literacy available so that those involved in the business will have the knowledge of what the objective is.”
Speaking on the issues of national security, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Aliyu Idi Hong reiterated the need to get database of herders so as to have easy access to them when necessary.
“It has been universally agreed that the future of pastoralism has come to an end, a lot of the herders have no lives outside their cattle. Most developed countries all over the world intensive system and they have the best milk and other products which they export.”