The Commercial Dairy Ranchers Association of Nigeria joined the rest of the world on Tuesday to celebrate World Milk Day amidst the daunting challenges confronting the subsector in the country.
This year’s theme was “Strengthening the local dairy sector in Nigeria: Addressing the pain-points for sustainable impact”.
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The event brought together major players in the sector and seasoned experts to chart the way forward in the sector that has been laden with many challenges.
Participants agreed that far-reaching policy and action reforms need to take place in the sector to attract both local and international investors.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Representative in Nigeria and to ECOWAS, Mr Fred Kafeero, who was the keynote speaker at the event, amplified the need for “strong partnerships to improve productivity in the dairy sector and responding to social and environmental concerns.”
He said though Nigeria has the most dairy potentials in the continent in terms of its population and different climatic zones, the country was burdened by farmers-herders conflicts, poverty, low yield, insecurity, diseases and malnutrition.
Mr Kafeero noted that part of the problems in the country’s dairy sector was that “milk consumption in Nigeria is very low. WHO recommends 210Lts/person/year whereas in Nigeria it’s about 8Lts/person/year. Across Africa, the average is around 40Lt/person/year.”
On his part, Dr Ikechukwu Kelikume, the Programme Director Agribusiness Management Programme, Lagos Business School, faulted the country’s and farmers’ approaches to dairy, which he argued made it difficult for many of the dairy businesses to survive beyond 10 years.
In his thought-provoking presentation on why the sector has remained at the pedestal level, Kelikume said many farmers failed because the approach to the business is passion instead of scientific, adding that passion constitutes only 10% whereas dairy is scientific which takes more than 70% of the processes.
He said: “Current population and median age of 18 years offers significant opportunities for a move away from communal pastoral farming to a more scientific dairy farming practice.
“Livestock farming and dairy value chain are a scientific business. The movement of cattle through long distances in search of fodder and water should be discouraged. Farming and dairy business is serious business and effort should be made to embrace sustainable farming practices.”
Alhaji MD Abubakar, MD/CEO of the L&Z Integrated Farms Nigeria Ltd, who spoke on ‘Investing in midstream operations: Path to sustainable supply in Nigeria’, said there was a vacuum in the bulk collection centres’ segment of the dairy sector, adding that unless there is investment in that area, many challenges would persist.
Abubakar, who is the chairman of the commercial ranchers, stressed that without milk aggregation centres, which make it easier for milk collection, it would be difficult to make gains.
“Without milk bulking or aggregation, even if you have a 100 litre-producing cow, you can only keep it in your backyard or farm; there is literally nothing you can do. That is why we have been advocating all this while that let’s bulk, let’s aggregate, from the half-litre producing cow.
“By the time we aggregate more, we’ll be able to have more milk. So when we exhaust this, we go back again — that is backward integration — further into the upstream, where you have the production and that production will naturally become robust where the midstream is well established,” he stated.
Vincent A. Yusuf & Jason N. Nasiru