An international non-governmental organization, ActionAid Nigeria has said Nigeria spends over N600 billion annually on milk because of its failure to utilize over 200 million cattle in the country.
The ActionAid food and agriculture programme coordinator, Azubuike Nwokoye stated this at a webinar organized by the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) to mark the global celebration of World Milk Day 2021 with the theme ‘Sustainability in the diary sector’ observed annually on June 1.
He called on the Federal Government to lead interventions and model structures that would address the predominant challenges in the diary production such as grazing grass and water, which makes up over 80 per cent of milk content, adding this will also address the recurrent insecurity situation in the country occasioned by herders and farmers clashes.
Similarly, the Chi Limited representative, Israel Dan’Auta, called for a national diary policy to boost local milk production and promote healthy consumption of dairy products.
He lamented the low milk consumption placed between 15 – 20 litres per annum as against the recommended 200 in more developed countries and called for collaboration between the government, public and private sector to sensitize Nigerians on the importance of milk consumption.
Earlier in his remarks, the ACCI vice president on agriculture, Dr. Kolawole, highlighted the importance of milk, saying it is a good source of protein and calcium as well as nutrients including Vitamin B12, iodine and magnesium. He advised parents to give milk to their children to prevent stunted growth as milk is important for bone development and muscle function.
He said Nigeria was glad to join the global yearly celebration of the World Milk Day since it was introduced in 2001 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) to recognise the importance of milk as a global food and raise awareness of activities in the diary sector.
He said the nation’s theme for this year’s celebration, ‘Assessing Nigeria’s diary industry’ was to engage stakeholders to look at the sector and how Nigeria could address the challenges in the sector for a more vibrant diary sector.
In his opening remarks, the ACCI president, Dr. Abubakar Al-mujtaba, said ACCI, as part of its advocacy mandate, had put together the webinar to support the effort of the FAO, and escalate the importance of the dairy sub-sector and the support the federal government as well as the private sector could extend to it.
“There is no doubt that livestock and its impact to the economic and social life of the people has become a national issue. And I would expect that the deliberations and outcomes of this webinar will galvanize all stakeholders in the diary business to do more and optimize the opportunities inherent in the dairy sub-sector.
“As a first step towards supporting the initiatives of government towards the growth, development and expansion of the dairy sub-sector, ACCI Policy Advocacy Centre (A-PAC) has produced a policy brief on the Nigeria dairy industry. The report will be circulated widely to all stakeholders with the hope that it will be implemented,” he added.
In her remarks, the ACCI director-general, Ms. Victoria Akai, stressed the importance of the business community to join in marking the world milk day as a means of livelihood for billions of persons in Nigeria and across the globe, and because dairy products are a very important component of our national and global economy.
Earlier the Minister of Agriculture, Sabo Nanono, represented by Mercy Otiteh of the ministry’s animal husbandry department, said government was committed to promoting the diary sector, especially in terms of gaining self-sufficiency in milk production, adding the ministry was working with cross-cutting stakeholders to revamp the sector.