The UN Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has called on Nigeria to show more commitment in efforts to develop its the livestock sector to enhance food security and national economic growth.
The FAO Representative in Nigeria, Mr Fred Kafeero, made the call on Tuesday in Abuja at the Inception workshop on piloting the demonstration of the National Livestock Transformation Plan in Nigeria (NLTP).
Kafeero, however, said that it was worthy of note that Nigeria had demonstrated high commitment to developing its livestock sector through the NLTP.
He said the FAO had provided technical support for the Technical Cooperation Project (TCP) to support scalable piloting of the NLTP through the promotion of best practices and adoption of simple technology.
Also speaking, Dr Andrew Kwasari, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Agriculture, said that the NLTP had developed a plan for addressing and resettling the displaced population in the conflict zones to enable them to become part of the agricultural modernisation process.
Kwasari added that the programme attempted to resolve critical issues around peacebuilding and community cohesion through livestock transformation.
In his keynote address, Dr Abdulkari Mu’azu, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), said that the project was coming at a time when the Federal Government’s focus was on the diversification of the national economy via agriculture.
Mu’azu, who was represented by Mrs Winnie Tai-Solarin, Acting Director, Animal Husbandry Services, FMARD, said that the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the livestock industry had made the intervention expedient.
According to him, over 30 per cent of women and young adults largely depend on livestock for their income, livelihoods and sustenance.
He, however, commended FAO for piloting the project in two states and appealed that the project should be expanded to cover more states to enable it to have greater impact on the agricultural sector and its stakeholders.
Also speaking, Mr Hakeem Ibilade, Assistant Director, Animal Husbandry, FMARD, said that Nigeria currently had one of the lowest indices of animal productivity and value chain development in Africa, in spite of its comparative advantages.
He said that there were huge supply and demand gaps in livestock and livestock products, with the country’s population steadily increasing at an annual growth rate of 3.1 per cent.
“It has been extrapolated that Nigeria’s population will reach 219.15 million by 2025 (according to FAO estimates in 2019).
“With this alarming geometric increase in population, the demand for livestock and livestock products will further widen, predisposing the country to increased importation to meet its animal protein needs,” he added.