The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbe has said that Nigeria loses over $1.3bn annually on dairy importation.
The minister lamented that “this was unsustainable and unacceptable with the huge potential Nigeria has to, not only produce enough dairy for its consumption, but for export purposes.”
Ogbe made the assertions when he received a delegation of FrieslandCampina WAMCO, makers of peak milk on Monday in Abuja. The group was led by its chairman, Moyo Ajekigbe.
According to the minister, “We have massive lands all over the country so we can create paddocks which will have water wells and enough grazing facilities to persuade the Fulanis settle down and fatten their cows and stop roaming.” We must simply bring roaming to an end,” he said.
He assured that the ministry in the shortest possible time will look towards partnering with some universities to look at the best varieties of cattle and preparing them towards improved dairy produce as against roaming which lowered the value of the cattle.
Ogbe also hinted at the possibility of a livestock census in 2016 towards ensuring Nigeria has appropriate data of its cattle and dairy potential, saying “if we know the number of animals, we can know the litre of dairy produce to expect.”
He added, “We will work to stop roaming, build water wells along the grazing routes and start paddocks at various locations in the country.”
On his part, WAMCO’s Managing Director, Rahul Colaco, said as one of the world’s most successful dairy producers, their target “was to partner the government towards improving the nutritional value among children through the daily school feeding programme for primary school children to commence soon.”
He said that “over 1,000 children below the ages of 5 died daily as a result of malnutrition and assured WAMCO, which had worked in Nigeria for over 60 years was committed to maximizing the role of small holder farmers, scaling up their programmes of activities to other states of the federation and creating suitable routes for farmers to sell their produce.”