NIGERIA – The Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof Abdullahi Mustapha, has issued a stern warning that Nigeria’s annual expenditure of $1.5 billion on dairy product imports is unsustainable.
Speaking at the 2023 Strategic Interest Research Group meeting on Livestock Genetic Improvement, Mustapha emphasized the urgent need for Nigeria to address its dairy industry challenges and harness its vast potential.
The event, titled ‘Accelerating Genetic Improvement for Advances in Livestock Agriculture,’ was jointly organized by NABDA and the Centre for Genomics Research and Innovation, in collaboration with strategic partners and stakeholders.
It took place at the Herbert Albrecht Conference Centre within the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, located in the Oyo State capital, Ibadan.
Mustapha’s concerns centred on Nigeria’s heavy reliance on imported dairy products, highlighting that the nation’s yearly $1.5 billion expenditure could be better utilized for domestic development.
He pointed out that Nigeria boasts approximately 21 million head of cattle, which, if properly managed, could significantly reduce the importation burden.
Mustapha envisioned a scenario where each cow could produce 10 to 15 litres of dairy per day, ultimately contributing to the nation’s prosperity and the intellectual development of its youth.
Comparing Nigeria to countries where daily fresh milk consumption is a norm, Mustapha lamented that the nation was lagging in terms of food security and nutrition.
He noted that regular milk intake has been linked to higher IQ levels among children, underscoring the importance of transforming the dairy sector.
Mustapha further stressed that President Bola Tinubu’s declaration of a state of emergency on food security reflects the government’s unwavering commitment to achieving self-sufficiency in food production.
He assured partners and stakeholders that the government is dedicated to promoting the genetic transformation of Nigerian dairy cattle.
Prof. Oyekanmi Nash, Director of Genetics at NABDA, highlighted farmer displacement in multiple regions, during his keynote address on sustainable dairy production in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Despite these challenges, Nash expressed optimism about Nigeria’s dairy industry’s future. He revealed that initiatives were underway to improve dairy production in Nigeria, with a particular focus on regions like Kano, Daura, and Adamawa.
He cited recent successes in inseminating 200 cows, leading to the development of new, more productive cow varieties that can help secure the nation’s dairy industry.
As Nigeria grapples with the daunting task of reducing its reliance on dairy imports, NABDA and its partners are determined to lead the charge in transforming the nation’s dairy sector, ensuring a more sustainable and prosperous future for Nigeria.