The Livestock industry in Nigeria has never been inconsequential to the economy of the country. It contributes about 12.7% to the overall Gross Domestic Product annually. The Livestock component of the agriculture sector remains the second-largest contributor (even though it is still far from optimum utilization) to the Gross Domestic Product rated just next to crop production.
Livestock has carved out for itself a profound and significant space in our livelihood and economy as a country. Livestock keeping is a critical part of Nigeria’s society and economy. According to ASL 2050,(2018) about 13 million households keep farm animals and the sector contributes a significant percentage to the National Gross Domestic Product.
The population growth rate is over 3% while the growth rate of food is between 1.0 – 1.5% leaving a shortfall of 1.5 – 2% in annual food supplies. Livestock contributes 25 percent of food consumed. It includes cattle (Beef, Dairy), Poultry (Broilers, Cockerels, and Layers), Swine (Pork, lad), small ruminants (goat, sheep) and micro livestock which include grasscutter, rabbits, Snails, etc. Each component of the buzz word “Livestock” represents an industry in Nigeria as we have the beef industry, dairy industry, swine industry, poultry industry, etc. This brief survey covers majorly the beef and dairy industry, the poultry industry, and the swine industry.
The beginning of the last quarter of 2019 witnessed the flag-off of the National Livestock Transformation Agenda Plan in the Northern part of the nation by the present administration. This is a holistic concept aimed at the development of the Nigeria Livestock industry, hence move in the direction of food security (Animal product) and it spans through 2028. It involves a number of important stakeholders which include the federal government, state government, local government, private investors, pastoralists, etc.
The Nigerian government with the support of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and USAID involved many essential stakeholders to assess the future of Nigeria livestock industry, hence a number of goals were birthed, cutting across different sub-industries spanning from 2015, yet in 2020, these goals still stares at us like a pipedream.
The beef industry aimed at increasing the quantity of beef that goes into the national meat market by 650,000 metric tonnes annually. Amazingly, at 26th of June 2019, Vanguard reported that only 360,000 metric tonnes of beef is available for consumption leaving behind a gap of about 44% yet to meet the projected quantity in 2020.
Also, the livestock transformation agenda did not elude the Dairy industry as it has its own allotted target. It was projected that the dairy products produced locally will be increased from 400,000 metric tonnes to 1.9 million metric tonnes, but as of July 2019, Businessday reported that a dearth of capacity to fill the country 1.4 million tonnes deficit.
Moving on to the swine industry, it was projected that come 2016, the amount of pork that would be supplied into the National market would be 400,000 metric tonnes from 218,000 metric tonnes that it used to be in 2012, which is about 60% increase in production. In 2018, a report from Kneoma has it that production of pork in Nigeria was 283,793 metric tonnes leaving behind a gap of 182,000 metric tonnes to meet the preset target.
On to the poultry industry, it is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world and contributes approximately 10% of all meat and eggs produced in the world each year. In the past, almost every household had poultry, but with a trajectory increase in population growth, there is a need to scale higher. The Nigeria Poultry industry comprises about 180 million birds. Ogun state ranks first followed by Oyo state when it comes to the largest poultry producing states in Nigeria. This industry experienced a growth of an average of 2.88% from 1969-2018 and yet still experiencing a steady growth by the day.
Apparently all sectors got their shares from the resultant ripple effect of the COVID-19 pandemic with no exception to the agricultural sector particularly the livestock subsector. As a result of this, proactive measures are thereby required so as not to cripple the country’s welfare on the couch of food insecurity especially in terms of animal protein. It remains an axiomatic truth that the small scale agriculturists in the country play a very pivotal role in ensuring food security attainment and as such, critical attention should be apportioned to this circle of people. This has to be done since they are grossly affected by the effect of the pandemic.
Measures installed by the government to see that COVID-19 pandemic is properly curtailed has made this helpless circle of vulnerable small scale livestock agriculturists, especially in remote areas be at the mercy of the situation as human resource mobility, purchase of imported feeds such as concentrates and other feed ingredients. The supply of perishable livestock products to the market has also been of great concern. The price of the available feed ingredients and other variable inputs such as vaccines and medications are now on the increase yet, more importantly, accessing the wide range market in different parts of the country looks practically impossible.
The Director-General of the Nigeria Institute of Animal Science, Prof. Eustace Iyayi has said the industry in Nigeria could be valued at least 50 trillion naira over the next decade if all right structures are put in place.
Consequently, if proper attention is not duly deployed to the current trend going on in the agricultural sector particularly the livestock subsector of the country, total dependence on importation of animal protein and by-products will become grossly inevitable and this will either ground or slow down the growth of Nigeria livestock industry or even worst still place the Nigeria livestock industry at the mercy of other countries who have decided to take the bull by the horn even in this gloomy period.