The Director-General and Chief Executive Officer, National Biotechnology Development Agency, Prof Abdullahi Mustapha, says the $1.5bn spent on the importation of dairy products annually is not sustainable.
He made this disclosure on Thursday during the 2023 Strategic Interest Research Group meeting on Livestock Genetic Improvement, organised by NABDA and the Centre for Genomics Research and Innovation, in collaboration with strategic partners and stakeholders, held at the Herbert Albrecht Conference Centre, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan, Oyo State capital.
The theme of meeting was ‘Accelerating genetic improvement for advances in livestock agriculture’.
Mustapha said, “We spend about $1.5bn annually on dairy importation, but if we do something about what we have, we will save that $1.5bn and use the money for our own benefit. We also have about 21 million herds of cattle in Nigeria. Imagine if we can produce 15 litres, even if it is 10 litres of dairy per cow daily, I think it will go a long way in making our society rich and our youths brilliant.
“If you go to some countries, you will see that in every household, their younger ones must take one glass cup of fresh milk every morning, and you know what that means; it increases their IQ. Nigeria is really lagging behind.”
He stressed that President Bola Tinubu had declared a state of emergency on food security and that the government was committed to food sufficiency.
Mustapha said the government was committed to making Nigeria great again, adding, “to our partners that are helping in one way or another, I tell you that we are very much committed in terms of doing everything to see that government promotes this course of genetic transformation of our Nigerian dairy cattle.”
In his keynote address, titled ‘Unlocking the potential of genomics and genome editing to enhance sustainable dairy production in Sub-Saharan Africa: The GSNDC Project,’ the Director of Genetics, Genomics and Bioinformatics Department at NABDA, Prof Oyekanmi Nash, said it was unfortunate that farmers were displaced from their farms, especially in the North-West, North-East and Benue State in the North-Central.
He added, “You would notice that in the last 10 years in most farms in the North-West, North-East and even Benue State, farmers are already displaced from their farms. Even at a village where I went to do insemination, we were invaded. But I think Nigeria is getting it right now, and we already have sites in the North, such as Kano, Daura and Adamawa. We inseminated 200 cows recently.
“So, we are having new varieties of cows that will be productive.”