The National President of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Baba Ngelzarma, has disclosed a significant economic insight, revealing that Nigeria currently expends approximately $1.7 billion annually on importing milk.
This revelation sheds light on the country’s dependency on external sources for this essential commodity and underscores the need for strategic interventions to bolster domestic production.
According to nairametrics.com, Baba Ngelzarma disclosed this during an interview with NAN where he called on the federal government to pay more attention to the dairy industry through budgetary allocation.
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 cow.”
“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 neighbouring countries, yet we produce lesser milk due to neglect of the sector.’’
Livestock will contribute significantly to Nigeria’s GDP with govt’s support
He 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.’’
Ranching would be difficult for Nigerian herders to adopt
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, he explained, cannot afford ranching due to its capital-intensive nature.
Ngelzarma emphasized that the nomadic farmers are accustomed to an open grazing system and have not received training on modernization.
To make ranching successful in the country, Ngelzarma stressed the importance of adequate funding.
He proposed a model that fits the uniqueness of pastoralists, suggesting the transformation of grazing reserves into community ranching as a viable alternative.