The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on Tuesday organized a one-day stakeholders forum for livestock farmers in the northeast, to accelerate milk and dairy production.
In a statement, Patrina Pink, FAO’s Communication and Outreach Officer, Maiduguri Sub-Office, said the forum which held in Maiduguri, was organised for stakeholders drawn from Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States.
Pink disclosed that the forum was designed to examine challenges and opportunities to encourage animal re-stocking, livestock, milk and dairy production.
She said the forum would also provide means of livelihood to the farmers affected by the Boko Haram insurgency in the region.
She said that participants deliberated on the challenges facing livestock and dairy production and came up with sound recommendations, to serve as a road map to reinvigorate the sector.
“The objectives are to get an overview of dairy production situation in the states, assess the strength, weaknesses, opportunities, identify threats to dairy production systems, map out potential areas of livelihood interventions and recommend key activities.
“During series of presentations, participants noted the great potentials for improved dairy production as a means of poverty reduction due to pastorals’ familiarity with dairy, the huge resource of animals, strong internal demand and the dairy industry’s traditional inclusion of women.
“Bottlenecks to the growth of the industry were identified as lack of quality animal feed such as cultivated pasture and range lands; low milk yield due to poor local genetic breed, notably short lactation periods, as well as poor dairy management, low access to animal health services and weak dairy market system”.
Pink said the forum advocated for improvement in the provision of animal feeds; water, animal health services and encouraged growth of smallholder dairy producers, particularly resource-poor pastorals.
The FAO spokesperson added that the forum also recommended for increased training in areas of post-harvest management, value addition to create market and encourage development of smallholder dairy clusters.
Alhaji Zanna Mustapha, Director of Livestock Services, Borno State Ministry of Animal Resources and Fisheries Development, said that the region has a high dairy production potentials.
Mustapha stressed the need for urgent measures to increase the productivity of local breeds through improved techniques such as artificial insemination.
He noted that Boko Haram insurgency had led to limited access to traditional grazing lands, adding that the affected lands were being designated as no free-zones by the military authorities.
Nourou Tall, Deputy FAO Representative in Nigeria, said that: ‘‘low livestock and dairy productivity can worsen the food security situation in the northeast and lead to a decline in incomes, dietary diversity and nutrition.
“Increasing dairy production as part of a comprehensive livestock sector strategy, that makes smallholder producers its center, will contribute to a sustainable recovery process in the northeast.”