The Federal Government on Tuesday said it was targeting 1.6 billion liters of milk per annum for self-sufficiency in livestock products and animal protein needs.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, disclosed this while inaugurating the National Pasture Development Programme, NAPDEP, in Paikon Kore grazing reserve, FCT.
Mr Abubakar said the renewed focus on the livestock sector, especially in pasture development played an important role in providing an economical source of ruminant livestock feed, and improved productivity for food and human security.
” It is worth noting that more than 95 per cent of Nigeria′s ruminant production is primarily managed under the traditional pastoral system.
He said it was a characteristic of extensive system where naturally grown pastures were the main source of nutrition for the animals.
“Therefore, herders and husbanders rely on mobility in search of feeds, water, and friendly grazing areas.
“The result of this continuous movement in search of pasture has adversely affected the animals’ attainment of their optimal productivity and consistently impaired our national capacity for self-sufficiency.
It also affected “livestock products and animal protein needs, especially our national target of 1.6 billion liters of milk per annum”.
”Our current ranking by FAO is 15th in the world in cattle, fifth in sheep and third in goat, and 17th in camel farming.
”The continuous extensive system of production is not a viable option since the land area for grazing and feed availability are severely limiting factors in the high livestock producing zones of Nigeria.
“It is therefore very necessary and top priority that all players in the industry focus on meeting the huge demand for pasture.
” This will give a great opportunity to unlock the potential of the Livestock Industry and the development of its rich value chains,” he said.
He urged partners within the industry, especially researchers, academia, sub-national governments, international development partners and private sector, to embrace the National Pasture Development Programme, NAPDEP.
“However, the partners should also take active participation in the value chain (production, processing, and marketing) for sustainable and improved ruminant animal production in Nigeria,” he said.
According to him, it will serve as panacea for reduction in conflict emanating from cattle movement, attainment of self-sufficiency in good quality pasture/forage production, and the transition from extensive grazing to a well-planned, settled form of livestock production.
”Thus, NAPDEP will focus on forage species that are cultivated for livestock feed that are carefully selected based on adaptation to ecological areas as animal feed.”
The Emir of Muri, Taraba, Abbas Tafida, said promoting pasture development in the country would build the economy and unify Nigeria, adding “pasture is very important, we can’t ignore it”.
Mr Tafida is also the Chairman Board of Trustees, National Association of Pasture and Livestock Feeds, Producers, Processors and Marketers of Nigeria.
Also, the Minister of State, FCT, Dr Ramatu Aliyu, expressed the hope that the National Pasture Development Programme, NAPDEP, would help to revitalise the livestock subsection to meet its expected potentials in terms of foreign exchange earnings for the country.
Mrs Aliyu, who was represented by Ishaq Sadeeq, Finance and Admin FCT Agriculture Secretariat, said she also hoped that NAPDEP would become a viable vehicle for employment, income generation and societal growth.
The Director General, National Seed Council of Nigeria, Dr Olusegun Ojo, said the event was timely, saying the initiative would diversify the economy.
Also, Temi Adegoroye, Managing Director, Sahel Consulting Agriculture and Nutrition, said the initiative would improve farmers livelihood, peace and security.