That Nigerians eat greater percentage of the meat produced in West Africa is indisputable. Data from different sources indicate that an average Nigerian eats meat almost three times a week, which is about nine kilogrammes (kg).
The growing population, rising incomes and urbanisation are translating into an increased demand for livestock products. About 1.3 million cows are slaughtered annually to provide for Nigeria’s population of about 170 million people. Cattle meat accounts for about 30 per cent of the country’s meat consumption, therefore, it is critical and important to assuring Nigeria’s food security.
Statistics shows that Nigeria was already experiencing shortages of meat due to high level of local consumption. This, therefore, means that the livestock industry is big business in Nigeria in view of the growing demand for meat. As disposable incomes rise alongside population growth in the coming years, consumption of meat and milk is forecast to expand.
Corroborating this, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that between 2010 and 2050, beef, poultry meat and milk consumption will increase in Nigeria from 117 to 253 and 577 per cent.
To this end, stakeholders have urged the country to invest adequate resources in the livestock subsector to enable production of high-value food products to feed the growing population.
This was the position at the 3rd Daily Trust Agric Conference & Exhibition, held in Lagos. The theme of the conference was: Repositioning Rice, Sugar and Dairy Production for Optimal Yield.
The dialogue set the stage for roadmap on integrated livestock development. The forum’s aim was to come up with proposals, which would be used to advise the government on measures to improve livestock production.
In his remarks, the Chief Executive/Editor in Chief, Daily Trust Newspaper, Mallam Mannir Dan-Alli, said livestock plays a pivotal role in the earnings and livelihoods of small-scale and marginal farmers in the country. He said the country needs healthy and productive animals for food security and stressed the need to enhance farmers’ access to high-quality feed and fodder for more productive livestock.
He noted that long-term development of the country’s livestock sector requires partnership between government and other actors including private entrepreneurs. He said strategies are needed to guide livestock keepers in balancing the use of feed and fodder to ensure more productive livestock, which would enable them to keep fewer more productive animals.
Dan-Alli maintained that livestock development is an important component of Nigeria agriculture with abundant social and economic potential.
Co-Chair, Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), Mr. Emmanuel Ijewere, urged stakeholders to identify ways in shaping the livestock sector across the nation. According to him, there is a need to help countless farmers and other stakeholders in the sector live better lives through livestock.
He said the livestock sector can create new opportunities for farmers and provide more affordable and healthier diets for future generations.
According to him, the livestock economy remains largely lowly productive, underdeveloped and hardly attracts investments. This is attributable to several factors including poor breeds and animal husbandry and inadequate financing. Additionally, poor infrastructure has compounded the challenges faced by livestock keeping communities.
He called for a pragmatic action to help the livestock sector meet growing demand and strengthen food security. Achieving this, according to him, requires a complex institutional response that can stimulate income and employment opportunities in the rural areas, protect the livelihoods of small farmers and improve resource use efficiency at all levels of the value chain.
SOURCE: THE NATION