The National President of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, (MACBAN) Baba Ngelzarma, while speaking with the press has revealed that Nigeria spends around $1.7 billion yearly in importing milk into the country.
According to him, the livestock sector has not and never received the needed attention from the government; the only support we have gotten is vaccination of cows.
He therefore called on the federal government to pay more attention to the dairy industry through budgetary allocation.
In his words: “The aspect of livestock production, marketing, transportation, processing among others is left in the hands of the pastoralists; the entire value chain of cattle is not harnessed by the government.”
“Nigeria has the largest population of livestock compared with neighboring countries, yet we produce less milk due to neglect of the sector.’’
Livestock will contribute significantly to Nigeria’s GDP with the government’s support.
He further stated that if the sector received the attention it deserves, the nation could become a major hub for milk exports and other value chains in the livestock industry.
Ngelzarma highlighted that the current state of the cattle business in the country is making a modest contribution to stimulating the economy.
He further explained that with the right focus, the sector has the potential to significantly boost the agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In his words, “If the sector is well harnessed, it can unlock a lot of employment opportunities in the country considering its huge investment, foreign exchange among others.’’
Speaking on ranching, Ngelzarma argued that ranching, a model borrowed from foreigners, would be difficult for pastoralists in the country to adopt.
According to him, this approach does not align with the lifestyle of local pastoralists, who are accustomed to roaming in search of pasture and are considered primitive.
He pointed out that a significant percentage, between 70% and 80%, of pastoralists in the country lack formal education and are smallholder farmers.
These individuals, according to him, cannot afford ranching due to its capital-intensive nature.
To make ranching successful in the country, Ngelzarma stressed the importance of adequate funding, there’d proposed a model that fits the uniqueness of pastoralists, suggesting the transformation of grazing reserves into community ranching as a viable alternative.