The Federal Government has revealed that approval of the National Dairy Policy will increase local production of dairy and reduce importation for the country.
The permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, made this assertion during the validation workshop on the National Dairy Policy in Abuja.
He restated that the ministry in collaboration with relevant stakeholders is determined to reduce the importation of dairy products, increase local production, as well as the marketing of dairy products in Nigeria.
According to him, policy developments of this nature take a series of steps to arrive at the desired result favoured by all stakeholders who will be directly or indirectly affected by its operation, adding that the ministry has carefully followed all the preliminary steps to [get] the draft policy document to the validation stage. “Successive administrations made efforts to close the gap through programmes [like the] as Dairy Development Programme, National Livestock Breed Improvement Programme, among others, thus creating avenues for private sector participation.”
Umakhihe stated that there has been a continuous drive towards meeting national sufficiency in dairy production to reduce the huge amount spent on the importation of dairy products to bridge the huge gap between supply and demand.
“The draft policy will support the implementation of the National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Plan (NATIP) and FMARD. It will give defined direction for the country’s dairy industry, where all players at various scales abide by rules of operation, in terms of production, processing and marketing of dairy products in Nigeria,” he said.
He further opined that the National Dairy Policy for the country is apt for the realisation of the vision of the Federal Government articulated through the change approach and standard practices to be applied at every level of society, public and private, towards a “pragmatic national development’’.
The perm sec urged the stakeholders to give their best towards producing a document that will outlive the present generation.
In her welcome address, the director, animal husbandry services in the ministry, Mrs. Winnie Lai-Solarin, said the dairy sub-sector plays a significant role in the country’s agro-economy, contributes to qualitative nutrition of the citizenry and the overall food security status of the nation.
She added that low milk yield, poor handling and post-harvest losses of dairy products remained the major issues.
“We need to continually improve the productivity of dairy animals genetically by managing their health to respond to market-driven productivity objectives,” she added.
In his goodwill message, the director-general of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), Prof. Hussani Ibrahim, represented by Dr. Mary Abiaeye reiterated the council’s readiness to go into partnerships aimed at upgrading the sector locally.
He stressed the importance of the draft document having input from a wide range of stakeholders, to direct and guide the operations of the sector.
A statement by the FMARD director of information, signed by Mrs. Okeh Juliet, said other speakers included the managing partner, Sahel Consulting Agriculture and Nutrition Limited, Mr. Temi Adegoroye; registrar, Veterinary Council of Nigeria, Dr. Isaac Nwakonobi and the representative of the registrar, Nigeria Institute of Animal Science, Dr. Bisi Akinfolarin, commended the ministry for coordinating the draft policy and pledge support and commitment to ensuring that a comprehensive and well-articulated policy will be produced for the overall benefits of Nigerians.