The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), on Tuesday said that Nigeria had more than enough cows and pastoralists to meet its citizens’ milk requirements.
Othman Ngelzarma, General Secretary, MACBAN, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that the major challenge in milk production in the country was inadequate milk processors and collation centres to uptake pastoralists’ production locally.
The general secretary specifically noted that the country currently had over 70 million cows, adding that three litres output of milk per cow daily was enough to meet the nation’s milk requirement if collated effectively.
“If we can collate milk effectively, it will be needless for the Federal Government to spend money on importation of milk,” he said.
“The problem is that there is not enough local processors to uptake the pastoralists’ production.’’
The Central Bank of Nigeria last July implemented a policy barring importers of milk from having access to foreign exchange (forex).
Mr Ngelzarma noted that due to the inadequate milk processors locally and collation centres across the country, pastoralists ended up conveying their milk in calabash for sale at low cost thereby leading to wastage.
He, however, urged the Federal Government to encourage more local processors of milk within the country and improve their capacity in order to boost milk production and reduce wastage.
According to the MACBAN scribe, the Federal Government should encourage members of the association to boost the productivity of cows milk in the country.
“There has not been any effort to establish more collation centres where our members can be offloading their milk for sale, this has made them resort to local processing and selling locally at much lower prices.
“However, if we can have a lot of milk collation centres established around the country with processors that will be uptaking the milk being processed by our members, at least this will boost milk production,’’ he stressed.
Mr Ngelzarma emphasised that such measures would also encourage the pastoralists to live sedentary lives rather than moving from one place to the other and encourage them to educate their children.
“I call on the Federal Government to invite more local processors to come up with processing plants that can uptake the milk being produced by pastoralists in the country.
“If we can get more uptakers, there will be no need for the country to spend money on milk importation.’’
The general secretary cited L and Z Yoghurt Company in Kano as an example of a collation centre that had helped to stop the nomadic movement of pastoralists.
“When I visited L and Z milk collation centres at about 5 a.m. in the morning. I saw how these pastoralists come with their milk in the morning to the factory vehicle, where the milk is tested and emptied into the company’s can.
“The L and Z Company has made a lot of our members sedentary, they no longer move from place to place.
“The company added N20 to the litre of those families that enrolled their children in school, such that instead of buying a litre at the rate of N120, they pay N140.
“So, all the pastoralists living within the area where L and Z centres are located have enrolled their children in school.
“During the rainy season, the pastoralists’ move their cows into the forest but still remain settled in one place, and they bring their cows back during the dry season.
“They have a reciprocal agreement with farmers in the area as well. Their cows eat the farm residues while providing their dung as fertiliser for the farmers; they also buy some of the farm residues around from the farmers to feed their cows during the dry season.
“This symbiotic relationship is working effectively for Kano people because of mere collation of milk from the pastoralists by a processor,’’ Ngelzarma said.
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