The need for government to produce national livestock development plan

The livestock industry in Nigeria has suffered serious setback due to the inability of the government to produce a working national livestock development plan. The lingering crisis between herdsmen and farmers could be solved if proper plan is made for livestock. COLLINS NNABUIFE writes on the importance of having a framework to develop the livestock industry.

 

THE agricultural sector is one of the major driver of the Nigerian economy as it contributes over 30 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country. It is also the largest employer of labour according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

This one time booming sector have suffered serious neglect over the years from successive governments due to the discovery of oil, as some infrastructures and policies linked to the sector were totally abandoned.

This negligence affected all the sub sectors in the agricultural sector, especially the livestock sector, where the grazing routes, herders settlement and ranches have been overtaken by development.

However, this led to the current crisis between farmers and pastoralist which has led to the death of thousands of Nigerians and destruction of properties worth billions of Naira across the country.

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Therefore, the need to have a working National Livestock Development Plan became necessary to curb the lingering crisis between farmers and herders, and also to add value to dairy and beef production.

Meanwhile, In the face of constraints posed by disease and ecological problems, government policies have not been totally successful in introducing or encouraging the development of basic technological and institutional changes necessary to exploit the potential that exists for an efficient growth of the sector.

Stakeholders, however are of the opinion that a properly articulated National Livestock Development Plans is a must for the growth and modernisation of the sector.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), in its Africa Sustainable Livestock 2050 report, while stating the opportunities and challenges of the livestock sub-sector, said the retarded growth of the livestock sector will have major consequences on the Nigeria’s society in the next decades.

It stated that the Nigeria’s livestock sector in 2050 depends on the interactions between known factors, including existing long-term policies, strategies and megatrends, uncertain and unpredictable factors, such as consumers’ behaviour and government accountability.

FAO in its report while commenting on public health, said the future will be characterised by an increased risks of outbreaks of zoonotic diseases including emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases (EIDs). It also said that the growing animal and human populations will result in novel interactions between humans, animals and widelife.

It stated that smallholder farmers will find it increasingly challenging to derive a livelihood from livestock, because of increased competition to access scarce natural resources and requirements to meet food safety standards.

In furtherance to that, the FAO’s Country Representative, Suffyan Koroma, said evidences indicate that population growth, urbanisation, industrialisation and rising incomes have already triggered growing demand for animal source foods in Nigeria foods in the country further causing major changes in livestock systems and value chains.

Explained explained that the ASL 2050 in Nigeria has completed and generated evidence on description and mapping of cattle dairy and poultry production systems; assessment of the contribution of the cattle systems to household livelihoods; assessment of the impacts of the different production systems on the environment.

He said decision makers should consider the emerging challenges of increased risks in zoonotic disease spread and the importance of value chains serving urban and peri-urban areas.

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