The Federal Government said it is currently meeting with stakeholders in the animal feeds’ sub-sector of the livestock value chain to develop a roadmap that will provide direction for the industry in Nigeria.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the first National Animal Feed Security summit, with the theme “Developing a roadmap for the animal feed security in Nigeria” today (September 23) in Abuja, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, pointed out that animal feed accounts for 70 per cent of the cost of animal production, making it the most important factor in the livestock business
“To transform the animal feed sector, Nigeria must embark on livestock feed production, industrialization, Feed Value Chain Development, Development of National Animal Feed and Feed Safety Policy, amongst others.”
Abubakar stated that the issue of animal feed and human food security was a priority agenda.
“The ministry has been committed to the development of the nation’s feed industry by making budgetary provision for capacity-building on alternative ingredients such as cassava peels and cocoa pods, with the supply of cottage feed-block mould in some states in the east and western parts of the country, based on comparative advantage,” he said.
The minister said further that to help alleviate the cost of feeds for the livestock farmers, the ministry procured and distributed ruminant feed concentrates, salt licks and finished feeds to small-holder farmers across the country.
Represented by the ministry’s permanent secretary, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, Abubakar added that the livestock sub- sector alone “engages over 5 million Nigerians directly or indirectly as technical or skilled personnel, distributors, fabricators of tools and machinery, input suppliers and generates massive employment across various value chains and strengthens the national social safety net with copious contributions to food security, household income and poverty reduction’’.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for granting the approval for the release of 500Mt of maize from the Strategic Food Reserve to the Poultry Association of Nigeria for the Feed Industry to alleviate the suffering of the livestock farmers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his welcome address, the permanent secretary in the ministry, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, represented by director, special duties in the ministry, Mrs Fausat Lawal, charged the participants to “focus on the agenda for the ministry in charting a new course for Nigerian Animal Agriculture as a business, in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to leverage the agricultural sector for wealth creation, employment generation and diversification of the economy and roadmap for animal feed security in Nigeria, to proffer solutions that will surmount the complex challenges stirred up by COVID-19 and global warming in the animal feed sector’’.
Umakhihe stated that the summit has come at the right time, as the world is facing serious challenges relating to food and feed security as a result of global warming and COVID-19.
In her goodwill message, the Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Dr. Ramat Tijjani Aliyu, represented by the acting secretary for agriculture and rural development, Mallam Ishaq Sadeeq, said the FCT administration has intensified the provision of necessary infrastructure in the four grazing reserves and has encouraged investors to embark on commercial production and conservation of pastures in the FCT.
In his address, the chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, represented by Sen. Halliru Danda Jika, called to stakeholders to look into small and large ruminant feeds, in line with some state government’s policies of promoting ranching by enacting the anti-grazing in their various states, adding that there are huge potentials in that area, as some companies are already into production of pelleted grasses.
A statement by the ministry’s director of information, signed by Juliet Okeh, said the acting director, department of animal husbandry services, Winnie Lai-Solarin, thanked all the participants for their immense contributions and commitment towards the programme and assured the participants of the ministry’s readiness to cooperate with stakeholders, partners as well as investors in the sector to ensure that animal feed security is achieved in Nigeria.