The government in Nigeria has been urged to boost production of a goat species called West African Dwarf (WAD) for its potentialities to meet the protein demand of over 60 million Nigerians.
Professor of Animal Production at the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture Umudike, Abia State, Dr Francis Ahamefule, urged while delivering the 47th inaugural lecture of the university entitled ‘Rhymes from Rainforest Dwarf Caprine: Ancient and Modern.’
The WAD goat, which he described as an indigenous small ruminant breed that parades outstanding attributes, “holds staggering potential capable of meeting the animal needs of over 60 million Nigerians who live within the forest and derived savanna zones that constitute the natural habitat for this breed.”
He also said that considering its diary and meat potentials, it is possible to develop a base population with the full expression of these traits upon which improvement of the goat could leverage, and its resilience, fecundity, and ease of handling make it a choice animal for improvement.
According to Professor Ahamefule, who disclosed that there are over 800 million goats in the world out of which about 53 million are in Nigeria, expressed worry that a nation like Nigeria that has been blessed with such indigenous potent animal species has remained unproductive to its development.
He argued that until research findings concerning the WAD goat and indeed all other species begin to find expression in smallholder animal units, mixed farm enterprises and integrated animal farms, the much-desired food security would continue to remain a mirage.
“It is possible to transform the WAD goat from its present local profile to an internationally acclaimed meat or diary breed. The Kalahari meat-type goat of South Africa is a typical example.”
Professor Ahamefule advised states and federal governments to encourage young school leavers and graduates of Animal Science to go into WAD goat production as a panacea for the perennial short supply of animal protein in Nigeria, adding that “WAD goat has not received the prominence it deserves from successive governments in Nigeria and this makes production and developmental strides slow and epileptic.”