The Food Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) on Tuesday tasked the Federal Government to show more commitment in the livestock sector to enhance food security and economic growth in the country.
Fred Kafeero, FAO representative in Nigeria made this known in Abuja at the inception workshop of the TCP/NIR/3701- piloting the demonstration of the National Livestock Transformation Plan in Nigeria (NLTP).
Kafeero said it was worthy of note that Nigeria has demonstrated high commitment to develop the livestock sector through the NLTP.
He said the FAO has provided technical support for a Technical Cooperation Project ( TCP) to support scalable piloting of the plan through the promotion of best practices and adoption of simple technology.
Also speaking, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Agriculture, Dr Andrew Kwasari, explained that the NLTP develops a plan for resettling and addressing the dislocated population in the conflict zones to enable them become part of the agricultural modernisation process.
Kwasari added that the programme attempted to resolve serious issues around peace building and community cohesion through livestock transformation.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Dr Abdulkari Mu’azu, in his keynote address said that the project was coming at a time the government was focusing on diversifying the economy with agriculture.
Mu’azu, who was represented by Winnie Lai-Solarin, Acting Director Animal Husbandry Services FMARD, said the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on livestock industry had made the intervention expedient.
According to him, over 30 per cent of women and young adults depend largely on livestock for their income, livelihoods and sustenance.
He, however, commended FAO for piloting the project in two states and also appealed for the project in more states for greater impact on the sector and its stakeholders.
Hakeem Ibilade, Assistant Director Animal Husbandry, said that Nigeria currently has one of the lowest indices of animal productivity and value chain development in Africa in spite of its comparative advantages.
He said there are huge supply and demand gaps in livestock and livestock products with the population steadily increasing at an annual growth rate of 3.1 per cent.
“It has been extrapolated that Nigeria population will reach 219.15 million by 2025 (FAO, 2019). With this alarming geometric increase in population, the demand for livestock and livestock products will further widen predisposing the country to increased importation to meet its animal protein needs.”