Agric ministry mulls more support for dairy sector
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) says boosting the dairy sector is critical in improving food security in Nigeria.
Mrs Winifred Lai-Solarin, Director of Animal Husbandry, said this at a two-day World Milk Day celebration in Abuja.
The event with theme “Pathways to Financing Nigeria’s Milk Revolution’’ was organised by FMARD and the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI).
Others are Commercial Ranchers Dairy Association of Nigeria (CODARAN) and SAHEL Consulting Agriculture and Nutrition.
She emphasised the need to scale up the financing of the dairy sector to address the huge volume of foreign exchange for importing milk into the country.
According to Lai-Solarin, we are focusing on financing the sustainable and scalable financing for our dairy industry.
“As you all know, we import dairy products that so much foreign exchange go into that.
“How do we cut down on these high importation of beef and how do we expand our dairy industry, indigenous dairy industry and create an enabling environment even for the international players. This is important so that we can have a robust industry that will not only create wealth but that will be an opportunity for creating employment and help us to meet our food security,’’ she said.
She said the approval of the National Dairy policy provided the direction for promoting the dairy sector.
“Before that, there was the National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Policy (NATIP) that also gives the foundation for the dairy policy. Now that we have a policy we are now refocusing the dairy industry. Before now we have focused our attention on collecting wholesome milk.We have provided milk collection centre every part of this countries where we can collect milk. We have worked assiduously with pastoralists to see that we cluster them and minimise conflict and provide them with off-takers of their milk. We have been in the forefront of the National Livestock Transformation plan providing pasture seeds capacity building under the National Pasture Development Programme,’’ she said.
Lai-Solarin said that the ministry was working assiduously towards improved breeds.
According to her, without an improved breed, we cannot hit where we want to go.
Today we might be talking about two litres per cow a day but with the improved breed we will be talking about 40 litres per cow a day.
“So, government has put in place the National Livestock Transformation Plan and several programmes on that,’’ she said.
Lai-Solarin also said that the ministry was focusing on climate smart livestock production to protect the environment.
On her part, the Director-General of ACCI, Dr Victoria Akai, solicited the concerted efforts of stakeholders in the dairy industry to improve the sector.
According to her, it is expedient to note that with the backward integration of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the dairy sector was revitalised attracting foreign investments and the creation of ranches across the country.
Similarly, Mr Chidi Onwumere, Executive Director, Policy and Advocacy Centre of ACCI, said that the celebration was significant to underscore the importance of milk in the growth of children.
Onwumere also described the dairy sector as very essential to the growth of the economy due to the value chain.
“We want the sector to thrive better than it is doing currently in the country,’’ he said.
NAN / Foluke Ibitomi