In the last 15 years, the federal government has designed and established 12 livestock initiatives to develop the sector.
These include the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), National Livestock Breed Improvement Programme (NLBI), National Dairy Development Programme (NDDP), National Pasture Development Programme (NAPDEP), National Strategic Animal Feed Development Programme(NSAFDP) and the Development of Gazetted Grazing Reserves and Promotion of Modern Ranches.
Others are the Ruminant Livestock Intervention Programme, Monogastric Livestock Intervention Programme, National Animal Disease and Pest Control Programmes, Livestock Productivity and Resilience Support Project (L-PRES), Stakeholders Engagement and Collaboration to Mainstream Livestock Transformation and the National Animal Identification and Traceability System.
Despite these initiatives, nothing significant has been recorded in terms of success; and the sector is the worse hit by low funding, research development, international donor interventions and private sector investments.
Last week, stakeholders in the livestock space met in Abuja to appraise the newest initiative—the 10-year NLTP, which, like many other programmes, is enveloped in controversies and misconceptions by segments of the country.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammed Mahmood Abubakar, took time to also highlight some of these programmes, which he said were designed to revolutionise the subsector.
Despite these numerous programmes, Dr Abubakar admitted that the livestock sector faces what he called “multi-faceted challenges” and fails to “unlock the potentials of the nation’s livestock resources for increased employment opportunity.”
The N100billion NLTP is a 10-year (2019-2028) national livestock development plan to be implemented by the federal, states and the private sector. Approved by the federal executive council, the federal government is to provide a seed fund of N100billion to all the states that have agreed to key into the programme.
By the end of the 10-year plan (2028), the subsector will be worth N8.16trillion, representing 2.56 times growth from its current N2.9trillion gross domestic product (GDP) value to the economy.
When properly developed, ranchers, smallholder herders and investors will bring their cattle to a fattening ranch site, where cattle would be fed with high quality feeds and provided with water for 150 days to boost average weight from 200-250kg to 450-500kg.
Beside this programme, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has developed 11 programmes to harness the potentials of the sector, which are currently being implemented by the ministry. The following are some of the programmes highlighted by the minister during the NLTP conference:
The National Livestock Breed Improvement Programme was designed to aid artificial insemination (AI) services through training and provision of vital tools and inputs to trained community service providers.
He said the programme was targeted at evolvement of hybrid filial generations of dairy cows and other livestock with improved productivity potential and overall genetic improvement of the national herd.
The minister said a national breeding policy had reached a concluding stage to serve as a roadmap for the emergence of utilitarian indigenous breeds.
National Dairy Development Programme is another initiative where the ministry is working together with national and multinational stakeholders, such as WAMCO, Arla Foods, Danone Nigeria, Promasidor Nigeria, L&Z Integrated, Sahel Consulting and Nutrition, among others, to promote commercial and peri-urban smallholder dairy production systems.
By design, the NDDP is a private sector-driven and government-enabled, with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development providing strategic support and leverages. The ministry has commenced the process of obtaining approval for the National Dairy Policy to govern the critical growth pathway of the dairy value chain in Nigeria.
The National Pasture Development Programme was developed to deal with the issue of pasture development by promoting the production of quality pasture and fodder value chains in the livestock sector.
The minister said, “The present trend of competitive land use, increased pasture production and fodder for the future requires development of sown pastures sustained with good management practices. The ministry is handholding livestock farmers across the country to develop homestead pasture, as well as commercial pasture seed plots.”
Closely related is the National Strategic Animal Feed Development Programme aimed at harnessing and converting available alternative feed ingredients, which until now were wasted as crop residue and post-harvest materials to low-cost climate smart animal feed.
The programme has the potential to reduce the rising cost of animal feed, which takes about 70 per cent of the cost of production and increased livestock efficiency and flexibility.
Development of Gazetted Grazing Reserves and Promotion of Modern Ranches
To utilise the abundant gazzeted grazing reserves across the country, the Development of Gazetted Grazing Reserves and Promotion of Modern Ranches was planned to modernise the livestock production through what the ministry called “support for establishment of ranch development centres, development of common facilities and services for settlements within gazetted grazing reserves to reduce movement in search of pasture, water and essential services, improvement of broader cross cutting and supporting structures to mitigate the escalating crisis between herders and farmers.”
The Ruminant Livestock Intervention Programme is the ministry’s strategy to boost productivity of ruminants and farmers’ incomes in selected livestock settlements with upgrading of key livestock infrastructure, service delivery and capacity of smallholder farmers.
The package was also intended to promote commercialisation, peaceful coexistence and increased synergy among pastoral, crop farming communities and other stakeholders.
Monogastric Livestock Intervention Programme
To support the poultry industry, which is apparently the most organised of the livestock sector, two programmes were launched: the National Egg Production Scheme (NEGPRO), targeted at taming nutrition and generating one million jobs through egg production and processing. Chief Audu Ogbeh’s ideas initially was to achieve 20million table eggs nationwide daily to scale up the inclusion of eggs and other poultry protein in our national diets and developing local capacity for processing of a minimum of 70 per cent of table eggs produced into shelf stable egg-based products, such as egg powder.
The second leg of the programme was the “Support of Small Holder Poultry Production Programme,” which was “to further the achievements of the African Chicken Genetic Gains Project” and sponsored by the Bill and Mellinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) through the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).
The programme was to develop chicken genetics and delivery of adapted chickens for poverty reduction, increased productivity, household nutrition and promoting incomes of farmers in rural communities.
National Animal Disease and Pest Control Programmes, according to the ministry, were “being implemented to reduce the level of livestock morbidity and pest infestations to manageable thresholds. This includes the provision of veterinary and animal health care services to safeguard livestock assets and household income, ensure safe livestock products and enable attainment of requisite standards for national and international trade.”
Livestock Productivity and Resilience Support Project is a new six-year scheme supported by the World Bank to “improve productivity, resilience and commercialisation of selected livestock value chains and to strengthen the country’s capacity to respond to an eligible crisis.
“The project has been negotiated and approved by the World Bank for take-off. All states are eligible to participate in the L-PRES, which is meant to support the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan,” the minister said.
Stakeholders Engagement and Collaboration to Mainstream Livestock Transformation
This is another programme where two departments of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development – Animal Husbandry Services and Veterinary and Pest Control Services are deepening collaborations with government’s ministries, departments and agencies and stakeholders to tackle the problems of the livestock sector.
National Animal Identification and Traceability System
Like what is obtained in other climes, the National Animal Identification and Traceability System is the best to tackle rustling and other criminalities in the sector. To deal with this, the ministry said it was collaborating with stakeholders on a “National Animal Identification and Traceability System” to ensure “an effective and internationally recognised animal identification and traceability system for Nigeria.”
However, as laudable as some of these programmes are, they have not achieved the goals for which they are designed; and experts put the blames on federal government’s inability to aggressively implement the programmes.
Experts have all attributed the poor performance of the livestock sector to a number of issues, most of which point to lapses in implementing robust programmes that will accelerate the development of the sector.
In a communiqué, they appealed to the federal government, through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to “review the implementation elements of the NLTP with clear delineation of roles and responsibilities among key stakeholders, as well as provision of adequate funding and resource mobilisation for the programme at all levels.”
They also called for “a comprehensive implementation of the NLTP covering all classes of livestock and value chains.”