Nigeria risks losing goat genetic resources

Goats are the most slaughtered animals in Nigeria. Figures from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the National Bureau of Statistics indicate that an average of 7.3 million goats are slaughtered every year.  A collaborative survey on National Agriculture Sample Survey (NASS) by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the National Bureau of Statistics in 2012  (the only available animal population census) put the total number of goats of different breeds at 72.5 million across the country, with the exception of Bayelsa.

Out of the statistics, Katsina State recorded the highest figure among the list of highest producers of goats in the country, with over 5 million (7.7 per cent), followed by Jigawa State, which has 4.9 million (7.5 per cent).  Zamfara and Benue states recorded 4.4 million (6.8 per cent) and 3.6 million (5.5 per cent) respectively. There are different breeds of goats in Nigeria, including Sahelian goats, Maradi or red Sokoto, West African dwarfs, Anglo-Nubian, Toggenburg,  Saanen. However, there are concerns that the inability of the country to specifically collect and preserve some genetic resources of this animal may pose a big threat because of cross border business activities and uncontrolled mating across the different breeds.

Dr Fredrick Ugochuckwu Udeh, who is a genetic expert at the Department of Animal Husbandry, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, told Daily Trust on Sunday that some of the breeds we have in Nigeria were losing some level of hetero-diversity, according to the research he did in 2016. “If you look at it, you would find out that I identified that their genetic similarities are very high. I was basing that on the level of uncontrolled mating we have in Nigeria among our local breeds and the movement of livestock across the borders. Those from the North are taken to the South while those in the South are taken to North by virtue of business. As a result of these movements, the animals are released at different regions and there were uncontrolled mating.” According to him, because of these movements and mating, there is a continuing mix of genetic materials; hence the country may lose specific gene traits of some breeds. Dr Udeh said Nigeria should encourage the production of small ruminants by providing support or grants to researchers who are interested in the goat industry, which he said could generate millions of naira to smallholder farmers. The university don advised government to have a deliberate programme that would preserve each of the indigenous goat breed the country has before we lose them. The goat economy Currently, farmers have been organising themselves to take advantage of the diversification drive of the current government to harvest opportunities in the industry.

The industry is worth over 576 billion with huge market for its value chain and associated products like milk, hide and skin and meat. In an interview with Daily Trust on Sunday, Comrade M. K Adam Rano, the general secretary, National Sheep and Goats Development Association of Nigeria and a Kano-based consultant in goat and sheep production, said the association was poised to reap the benefit of the neglected industry. He said farmers were organised in clusters for goat breeding in Kano and  Kuje in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. And they are about to set up one in Minna, the Niger State capital. He added that other states would soon follow. Comrade Rano said that by January they would have a programme that would benefit 2,000 goat farmers as they were working with Zenith Bank, Eco Bank and some microfinance banks to see how they would execute their activities, including the breeding programme. Although the Central Bank Anchor Borrower Programme includes livestock, no goat farmer is benefiting from the scheme yet. “We have not started benefiting from the Anchor Borrower Programme because of the constraints of obtaining an off-taker. Off-taker was the major challenge, but we are now through with that,” Rano said, adding that there’s a company which is ready to off-take what they produce every two months. If that happens, it might become a game changer and their dream of benefitting from the Anchor Borrower Programme can become a reality. Why cluster is necessary The goat consultant further said, “We are presently making efforts to see that through these clusters we introduced in various zones, our animals would be disease-free. When they are fully disease-free it will certainly go a long way to meet export demand.

It is when we have standard abattoirs that we will be able to export our meat to some countries.” They are also looking at the goat milk value chain, which they said was very lucrative and have ready off-takers for dairy products. “There are companies that are presently requesting for the dairy. This is what we wanted to do at the clusters. When we have our animals at the clusters we will be able to guarantee off-takers that there is no adulteration with regard to it (goat milk). Investment in multibillion dollar hides and skin Nigeria makes between $600m and $800m yearly in exporting leather to Asia, a report by JCR-VIS Credit Rating Company stated early this year. The report put the value of hides and skin export to China alone at $6m – $8m, adding that the amount of leather trade every year globally was estimated at $272bn. This consists of 55per cent footwear valued at $150 billion as 11 billion pairs of shoes are sold every year. In 2016, world import and export of leather was valued at $2bn each. Reports state that Nigeria exports between 40 and 50 million skins every year, most of which ends up in China. Malam Rano said if they were properly organised through the cluster, the country and farmers would make more money. This is something they want to achieve at the cluster, to take more than 60per cent export share. Breed improvement necessary, but… While stakeholders are seeking for improvement in the breeds of our livestock, farmers want a separate board, ministry and national policy that can enhance livestock specifically. The association said they were working together with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, through the Department of Animal Husbandry and Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Service. “We are looking at promoting our own national breeds. If we keep concentrating on foreign breeds we will undermine the development of our own breeds; that is why we are more conscious. However, there must be an upgrade; and whatever upgrades, we are not going to do anything that will undermine the breeds we call our own,” Comrade Rano said.

A study on genetic distance between two popular Nigerian goat breeds used for milk production by A.O Adebambo, Olufunmilayo Adebambo and others of  the Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics, University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State stated, “The Maradi goat is especially noted for its good skin, which serves as good economic return, apart from being a good milk animal among Nigeria’s Fulani cattle herdsmen.” The researchers crossed the Maradi goat with the West African dwarf goats, which are indigenous to southern Nigeria. The result creates a new line of goats, both good in milk production and at same time, trypanotolerant. “Both goats are endowed with unique qualities such as water economy, heat tolerance, disease resistance, mothering and walking abilities, and the ability to efficiently metabolise low quality feeds,” the study stated.


Read Previous

Dealers give reasons for high prices of foodstuffs

Read Next

Nigeria’s agric agencies failed to account for N350 million – Audit Report

Leave a Reply