The Nigerian livestock industry is a N30 trillion worth national asset that should be treated with care, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, has said.
A statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Friday by the National Animal Production Research Institute (NAPRI) quoted the minister as saying this in Zaria during a visit to the institute on Friday.
Mr Nanono said a United Nations report stated that Nigeria has over 20 million herds of cattle and several million herds of goats, sheep, pigs, donkeys and horses.
“So, if you add up and bill it in naira term, you are talking of over N30 trillion national asset and don’t forget, the way your house is part of the national asset, the same thing with cattle, sheep, horses and other animals.
“But we are trying to ruin it through dirty urban politics because the problem of this country is that people in the urban centers construe all the nonsense and take it to the rural areas to gain political relevance,” he said.
He advised Nigerians to expunge what he described as “dirty politics” from the agricultural sector in order to enable it to make a significant contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and attain the desired growth.
The minister urged experts in agriculture to boldly come out to defend the sector from “dirty politics” instead of leaving the task for the government alone.
“We have to remove all these dirty politics from the business of agriculture. Whether you are a Muslim, a Christian, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba or Fulani, you must eat food and it is still agriculture, you can’t change that. And for you that are intellectuals, you have to come out and defend this, not to allow the government to be the only one that is talking about it, because it is part of our business,” he said.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in Adamawa on September 10 inaugurated the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).
The plan which is to run from 2019 to 2028, is an initiative of the federal government in collaboration with states under the National Economic Council (NEC).
It is targeted at supporting the development of Nigeria’s livestock sector and will initially be implemented in seven pilot states of Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara.
The NLTP is one of the initiatives of the government to end the conflict between farmers and herders which has claimed thousands of lives in many parts of Nigeria.
The National Economic Council proposed a budget of N100 billion for the implementation of the plan.
Urging the institute to focus on its mandate during his visit, Mr Nanono said there will be no NAPRI if there are no pigs, sheep, cattle or chicken.
He said the livestock industry is a very important part of Nigeria’s development and that care should be taken in dealing with issues in the subsector.
Mr Nanono said most of the trouble in the sector in Nigeria lies in cattle rearing, but added that the conflicts between farmers and herders were dated back to over 200 years ago.
He said despite modern and sophisticated technology, the conflicts still persist.
Mr Nanono said in the past whenever a conflict occurred, community leaders used to trace the root with the intention of solving it.
He said the cattle industry in Nigeria has created a huge value chain with beneficiaries including butchers, businessmen and food vendors among others.
Welcoming the minister, the Executive Director of NAPRI, Clarence Lakpini, said the institute’s mandate is to conduct research that will improve the productivity of livestock to serve both economic and food values.
He thanked the Federal Government for the release of the 2018 budget appropriated to the institute and appealed for prompt releases in subsequent years.
Mr Lakpini said the 2018 budget released to the institute had paved the way for the execution of about 24 projects in the institute.
He appealed to the minister to facilitate the completion of the NAPRI dam and the connection of the institute to 33KVA electric power line. Also, he requested for landscapers for maintenance of the about 30-kilometre road network of the institute as well as prompt releases of funds.
The Nigerian government established NAPRI in 1976 to conduct demand-driven research and training in animal production and dissemination of technologies to animal producers, processors and marketers.