Empowering Farmers through Knowledge

Urgent Wake-Up Call: Nigeria’s $1.5 Billion Dairy Imports at Risk, NABDA Chief Warns

In a resounding call to action, Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, the Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), has raised a red flag about Nigeria’s unsustainable annual expenditure of $1.5 billion on dairy product imports. Speaking at the 2023 Strategic Interest Research Group meeting on Livestock Genetic Improvement, Mustapha underscored the critical need for Nigeria to address its dairy industry challenges and unlock its vast potential. This article explores Mustapha’s concerns and the potential for Nigeria’s dairy industry to flourish domestically.

The Dairy Dilemma: Nigeria’s heavy reliance on imported dairy products has been a growing concern, with the nation spending a staggering $1.5 billion annually. Mustapha highlighted the urgency of reevaluating this expenditure, emphasizing that these funds could be more effectively utilized for domestic development initiatives.

Unlocking Nigeria’s Dairy Potential: One of the central points of Mustapha’s warning was Nigeria’s vast cattle population, estimated at around 21 million. When managed efficiently, these cattle have the potential to significantly reduce the nation’s dependence on dairy imports. Mustapha envisioned a future where each cow could produce 10 to 15 liters of dairy per day, not only contributing to economic prosperity but also fostering the intellectual development of Nigeria’s youth.

Closing the Gap: Comparing Nigeria to countries where daily fresh milk consumption is the norm, Mustapha lamented the nation’s lag in terms of food security and nutrition. He highlighted research linking regular milk consumption to higher IQ levels among children, underscoring the transformative potential of the dairy sector in Nigeria.

Government Commitment: Mustapha reassured partners and stakeholders of President Bola Tinubu’s unwavering commitment to achieving self-sufficiency in food production, including dairy. He emphasized the government’s dedication to promoting the genetic transformation of Nigerian dairy cattle, signaling a strong commitment to overcoming the challenges.

Hope on the Horizon: Despite the challenges faced by Nigeria’s dairy industry, Prof. Oyekanmi Nash, Director of Genetics at NABDA, expressed optimism about its future. He highlighted the issue of farmer displacement in multiple regions and the need for sustainable dairy production in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nash revealed ongoing initiatives to enhance dairy production in regions such as Kano, Daura, and Adamawa.

A Promising Path Forward: NABDA and its partners are at the forefront of transforming Nigeria’s dairy sector, with the goal of ensuring a more sustainable and prosperous future. Recent successes, including the insemination of 200 cows leading to the development of more productive cow varieties, are testament to the nation’s potential in this sector.

Conclusion: The warning issued by Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha serves as a wakeup call for Nigeria to rethink its annual $1.5 billion expenditure on dairy imports. With the right strategies and investments, Nigeria’s vast cattle resources can pave the way for self-sufficiency, economic growth, and improved nutrition. The government’s commitment and ongoing initiatives signal a hopeful future for the transformation of Nigeria’s dairy industry, ushering in a new era of prosperity and food security.

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