Despite 20.7m cattle population, Nigeria spends N570bn yearly importing diary products

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Nigeria spends at least $1.5 billion yearly (about N570 billion) importing diary products into the country.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono on Tuesday at the National Diary Policy Stakeholders Engagement in Abuja.

According to him, despite the potentials in the dairy industry, 60 per cent of dairy products consumed in the country is imported while the remaining 40 per cent is produced locally.

“The country’s milk production accounts for only 13 per cent of West African production and 0.01 per cent of global dairy output.”

Nigeria has the 5th largest cattle herd in Africa with a cattle population estimated at 20.7 million and is expected to grow to 53.6 million by 2050 according to data from Statita.

However Nanono explained that the country’s dairy industry is largely subsistence and consists of local milk production, importation, processing, marketing and consumption presently.

He therefore stressed the need to harness the potential in diary sector in order to address some socio-economic and national herd management issues.

“The consumption of aggregated and bulked milk is less than 20 per cent of the local potential. Nigeria’s milk production accounts for only 13 per cent of West African production and 0.01per cent of global dairy output.

“The gap between supply and demand for dairy products is widening as a result of increase in population and urbanisation.

“The per capita consumption of milk is eight litres per year representing very low consumption levels when compared with the global averages of 44 litres of milk (FAOSTAT, 2019). Consequently, the long neglect of the livestock sector has put a lot of burden on the import bills of the country.

“About $5billion worth of food is imported yearly into the country out of which milk and dairy products account for $1.2-1.5 billion (according to Central Bank of Nigeria 9CBN) 2019). Hence, the annual dairy consumption is met by 60 per cent imports and 40 per cent local production,” he said.

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He said there is need to foster sub-sectoral growth that is inclusive of smallholders and all key players along the value chain.

“This requires the buy-in of national and multinational stakeholders. To facilitate this growth, the Ministry is presently collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment (FMITI), Raw Material Research Development Council (RMRDC), CBN, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the private sector to promote and develop the local dairy industry.

“This will facilitate the process of evolving a National Dairy Policy that will articulate a clear road map and strategies for the attainment of our development aspirations in the dairy industry,” the minister added.

Also speaking the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Ernest Umakhihe said presently, the country is far from meeting national sufficiency in dairy production in particular, and therefore spends huge amount on importation of dairy products to bridge the huge gap between supply and demand.

Umakhihe said:”Successive administrations had made efforts to close the gap through programmes such as Dairy Development Programme, National Livestock Breed Improvement Programme among others thus creating opportunity for private sector participation.

“The proposed policy therefore, is to give defined direction for the country’s dairy industry where all players at whatever scale will be expected to abide by rules of operation, in terms of production, processing and marketing of dairy products in Nigeria.”

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