The minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh on Monday said that Nigeria loses over $1.3 billion annually to importation of dairy products.
He lamented that it was unsustainable and unacceptable with the huge potential Nigeria has to, not only produce enough dairy for its consumption, but for export purposes. He also challenged that in another three to four years the country must be able to meet our dairy needs and end milk or dairy product imports.
Ogbeh made the assertion when he received a delegation of WAMCO, an affiliate of Royal Friesland Campina(Netherlands) and makers of Peak Milk Nigeria, led by the Chairman Moyo Ajekigbe in Abuja.
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 Fulani’s to 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.
Ogbeh hinted at the possibility of a livestock census in 2016 towards ensuring Nigeria has appropriate data of its cattle and diary potential, saying “ If we know the number of animals we can know the litre of diary produce to expect”
He said “ we will work to stop roaming,build water wells along the grazing routes and start paddocks at various locations in the country”.
Earlier while making a presentation on the purpose of their visit, WAMCO’s managing director, Rahul Colaco said as one of the worlds most successful diary producers their target “was to partner the government towards improving the nutritional value among children through the daily school feeding programme for primary children to commence soon”.
He observed that “over 1,000 children below the ages of 5 died daily as a result of malnutrition and assured 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.”