People & Money

Nigeria Spends About $1.5 Billion Annually on Dairy Products Importation – Agric Ministry

Nigeria’s dairy products importation spend stands between $1.2 billion and $1.5 billion, constituting an enormous share of the country’s food import bill, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said on Tuesday. According to Nigerian Bureau of Statistics figures, quoted by the BBC, Nigeria spent “In 2015, Nigeria spent nearly $2.9bn (£2.4bn) and by 2017 that had risen to $4.1bn”.

Abdulkadir Mua’zu, permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, told a workshop on the execution of the national livestock transformation plan, arranged by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the challenges poor breed quality, farmers’ clashes and animal theft poses to animal husbandry in Nigeria.

Muazu, who was represented by the acting director of animal husbandry services in the ministry, Winnie Lai-Solarin, cited failure to prioritise livestock farming as part of the reasons for the nation’s huge food import bill.

The Central Bank of Nigeria in February barred companies from accessing foreign exchange for dairy importation purpose, exempting only six companies- Nestle, FrieslandCampina, Chi Limited, Promasidor, Integrated Dairies Limited and TG Arla Dairy Product Limited- that have made investment in local diary production and are expected to gradually phase out importation as their domestic production capacity expands.

The Buhari Government has chosen measures to severely limit food imports as one of its interventionist strategies to boost Nigeria’s agriculture output but it is becoming clear that this is coming at a significant cost to households and the Nigerian economy, with headline inflation topping 13% in August, the highest point in 28 months.

Read Also: President Buhari Insists Agric Autarky Policies Have Saved Nigeria

Fred Kafeero, FAO country representative, told workshop that his organisation will back Nigeria’s efforts to expand diary production  its technical competence.

“FAO will continue to avail its assistance and technical expertise to the government of Nigeria to ensure food and nutrition security,” he said.

Nigeria’s enthusiasm to shut out imports have not seldom been accompanied by an equal determination to remove domestic barriers to food production.  One of the means of expanding Nigeria’s production of milk is to encourage adoption of more productive breeds of cattle, a task for which robust agriculture extension services is critical. Nigeria’s agriculture extension service has gone into limbo over the last 20 years. Nigerian laws, for instance the Land Use Act of 1978, and broader investment climate as well as the poor security situation prevent investment in the country by large diary businesses with the capital and technology required to rapidly expand production and produce milk at very competitive costs.



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