National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, has called on stakeholders and government to pay full attention and commitment to research and innovation as twin tools for the development of livestock in Nigeria.
Specifically, Ganduje called for development of new variety of maize that will be meant exclusively for poultry, monogastric and dairy feeding, adding that such will be a viable and more sustainable option to importation of the required grain, to save the collapsing poultry industry.
Delivering his keynote speech Tuesday in Abuja at the 12th joint annual meeting of the Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS) and the Animal Science Association of Nigeria (ASAN), tagged “Towards a sustainable Livestock production system for National economic development”, the APC National Chairman said research is needed to drive development along the value chain of the livestock production system, from primary production to market, to the overall benefit of our national economy.
At the event, Ganduje was inducted as the associate fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS).
According to Ganduje, improved feeds and feeding programmes are therefore important components of sustainable production systems, in order to optimize productivity and efficiency, digitization and decision support tools can support farmers in better management of their livestock, for instance, for more resource- and cost efficiency.
“Its obvious the livestock sector is critical component of our economy that should be taken seriously especially considering Mr President’s food security agenda and economic growth plan. Therefore, we should pay attention to the following:
“Our nation has to pay full attention and commitment to research and innovation as twin tools for the development of our livestock. We advocate a Triple Helix Model that loops Research/Innovation with Industry/Development and Government Policy.
“Research is expected to support the development of animal agriculture in many ways, perhaps the most important being, the enhancement of livestock productivity which leads to a more efficient utilization of available resources;
“Strategies should therefore embody adequate economic returns to livestock farmers; maintenance of natural resources and productivity; minimal adverse environmental effects through climate smart production practices; optimal production with minimal external inputs; and satisfaction of human food and income needs, as well as, rural families’ social needs;
“Areas requiring attention for R and D include i) farm system approach, ii) Feed (arid zones, semi-arid and sub humid zones, highlands, humid zones), iii) health and iv) genetic improvement; development of new variety of maize that will be meant exclusively for poultry, monogastric and dairy feeding. This will be a viable and more sustainable option to importation of the required grain, to save the collapsing poultry industry, a sub-sector that is worth about N1.6 trillion, according to the CBN (2019). It is important to note that this represents about 25% contribution to the agricultural GDP;
“R and D is also most urgently needed in the development of new breeds of cattle for increased meat and milk production, poultry strains that are resistant to heat stress, as well as, sheep and goats for improved hides and skin. Also, there more pressing need for genetic improvement of indigenous breeds of all livestock species for resistance to all endemic diseases for a sustainable national livestock production system;
“Its also pertinent for both Animal Scientists and Veterinarians is key to the development of our Animal Husbandry industry. The animal is one and must be seen as an entity that has to be maintained by the two professionals.
“While the animal scientists can deploy R and D in the vast fields of physiology, breed improvement, nutrition, housing, and welfare; the Veterinarian should equally employ R and D in health improvement of the animal, in the development of vaccines, control of zoonotic diseases and screening against emerging diseases and disease-causing organisms;
“It is expedient that with concerted efforts of both professions, working towards a unified goal, for the attainment of increased livestock productivity, utilizing a sustainable production system, the livestock sub-sector will be seen to take great leap to the fore front, as the leading foreign exchange earner for the country.”