20m Cows Too Low To Meet Nigeria’s Protein Need – Agency

National Agriculture Extension Research Liaison Services (NAERLS) has advocated for improved policy on the livestock sector, saying Nigeria’s current 20 million cows are too low for the population.

NAERLS in its 2018 data for livestock performance obtained by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) said Nigeria’s current 20 million cows were too low to meet the growing demand for the animal protein of about 200 million Nigerians.

“With a cattle population of 20,231,598 for a national human population of nearly 200 million, Nigeria needs to do more in the area of policy to improve in the cattle sector, which has served as a major source of animal protein for the citizenry,’’ the agency said.

The report said only deliberate policy and input improvement would boost the sector’s performance to meet such demand.

“The data on goat population and production for 2018 are a little improvement on what obtained in the previous years for 2016 to 2017.

“One major constraint affecting the sector is inadequate government intervention in livestock inputs.

“Zamafara has been leading in the population of sheep and cattle for a while, now perhaps this explains the incessant activities of cattle rustling and armed banditry in the state and its surrounding.

“The finding, therefore, reiterates the general call for improved security in the country,“ NAERLS said.

According to the data, the poultry sector has become highly attractive to the youths across the country, perhaps due to its low capital requirement, compared to cattle, sheep and goats.

“But the sector was seriously constrained by the Newcastle Disease (NCD), which was reported in all the agro-ecological zones.

“There were also Gumboro (infectious bursal diseases), coccidiosis and chickenpox infections.

“Nigeria has about 8.3 million pigs. In recent years, pig farming, especially in many north-central and southern states, is seen by small and medium-scale farmers as a major income-generating activity and means of income diversification.

“This should make the sector an attractive investment point for the government.

“Rabbit production is still relatively small and the market for the meat largely unknown.

“But the renewed search for meat low on cholesterol is gradually pushing the figures up, as new entrants, especially the youths are being reported across the country,“ it said.

“Some Newcastle, Trypanosomiasis, FMD and CBPP affected cattle in 2018 diseases such as Peste des Petitis ruminant ( PPR) diseases were reported in Goat and Sheep in 2018.

According to the agency, there were several weather-related constraints that affected other agricultural productivity in 2018.

“Severe flooding was experienced in 27 states across all the zones of the country.

“All the states in the south-south, as well as six states of the north-central recorded flooding as a constraint in the year under review.

“Government inputs were largely unavailable in many states,  22 states for chemicals (fertilizers, herbicides, vaccines) and 20 states for seeds (cuttings, seeds, stocks, etc).

“The highest challenge to agricultural production for 2018 was the high cost of labour (both manual and mechanical), as 34 of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory reported dramatic increases in costs of labour.”

The data showed that most farmers in 31 out of the 36 states and the FCT could not access tractor services due to the high cost of hiring services.

It said that most recurrent challenge for the various state Agricultural Development Projects (ADPs) was inadequate capacity building for their staff which was reported by 34 states.

The data said 37 ADPs were not able to air agricultural programmes on the media due to the high cost of airtime, while 30 of them were constrained by the lack of equipment.

It noted that most ADP staffers were constrained in the use of e-extension channels, which means that “their major clients (or farmers) continued to get agricultural information largely through conventional channels.

“Agricultural activities were heavily compromised in about 25 states by the persistent crises between herdsmen and farmers, while 10 states reported cattle rustling as a major challenge,“

The information also showed that the country had provided adequate support for extension service delivery, especially in the critical areas of personnel and fund.

It said that the most recurrent challenge for the various state ADPs was inadequate capacity building for staff which was reported by 34 states.

NAERLS also appealed to governments to provide more funds for ADPs as its 2018 data showed funds released to ADPs were grossly inadequate.

“The governments need to do a lot more to adequately support agricultural extension and advisory service delivery.

“The general state of funding has affected virtually all aspects of ADP activities: work equipment, mobility, capacity building for staff, and payment of counterpart funds,“ the agency said. (NAN)

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