The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has revealed that Nigeria’s milk consumption of an average 8 litres yearly was below the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended consumption of 210 litres per person.
FAO Country Representative, Fred Kafeero stated this at the World Milk Day conference organised by the Commercial Diary Ranchers Association of Nigeria (CODARAN).
The event was held to commemorate the World Milk Day celebrated on June 1st every year, and it had in attendance experts, officials and stakeholders in the milk industry.
The theme of the event was “Strengthening the Local Dairy Sector in Nigeria: Addressing the Pain-Points for Sustainable Impact.”
In Kafeero’s remarks, malnutrition is prevalent in Nigeria because of the low consumption of milk and other dairy products.
According to the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), Nigerian cows produce about 1.5 litres to 2 litres of milk daily.
Kafeero noted that the Nigerian cattle produce less milk due to low investment and slow government policy intervention which would have provided incentives for increased dairy production.
“We were told by statistics that about 37 percent of Nigerian children under 5 years are stunted with 21 percent severely stunted. Other groups of the population particularly women are equally suffering from malnutrition.
“Despite this, the World Milk Day always reminds us that milk and dairy products have proven nutritional benefits and are the central component of healthy diets,” he said.
Kafeero added that “there are many structural and operational factors responsible for the majority of our people not having access to affordable milk,” citing low investments and slow government policy interventions which would otherwise provide incentives to realise significant improvements in cattle productivity.
The reason for low milk production in Nigeria could be as a result of the cost of the processed milk which is largely imported. Also the raw milk is expensive for rural dwellers to afford, he said.
“We acknowledge that the domestic production of milk of about 500,000 metric tons is quite low, the supply gap of 1.2 metric tons means that many people go without milk, and because the large portion of this is imported, it also means you have to dig deeper into your pocket to buy the processed milk and dairy products,” Kafeero noted.
He stressed the need for a positive change in the dairy sector citing the introduction of superior breeds of cattle which has a faster rate of growth and higher milk production potentials.
“The predominantly pastoral production systems and the low breeds that we have been known for are of low productivity. It is therefore important for us to move towards superior breeds with a faster rate of growth and higher milk production potentials,” he added.
On his part, the Director-General of the Council, Professor Ibrahim Doko, represented at the event by Deputy Director of the Council, Dr Mary Abiaeye, said the Nigerian local dairy sector relies mostly on milk production from subsistence Fulani pastoralists, few viable commercial dairy farms and importation.
Doko noted that Nigeria is the largest importer of processed milk in West Africa, spending N1.73 billion per annum for milk importation, adding that Nigeria’s domestic production does not meet daily capacity utilisation for the dairy companies.
He, however, said that the indigenous breeds of cattle have low genetic potentials which leads to low growth rate and milk yields possibly due to poor management systems and stress of endless trekking in search of pasture.
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