By Doris Esa
The Federal Government is determined to reduce importation of dairy products, scale up its local production as well as marketing in the country.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Ernest Umakhihe, made the disclosure on Tuesday, at the opening of the National Diary Policy Validation workshop in Abuja.
The workshop was organised by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.
It aimed to harvest the inputs of relevant stakeholders for the purpose of enriching the National Diary Policy for Nigeria.
Umakhihe described the National Dairy Policy as apt and articulate, which is in accordance with the vision of the Federal Government for the dairy industry.
”This meeting cannot come at a better time than now because a National Policy for dairy and dairy products in Nigeria is long overdue.
” There has been a continuous drive towards meeting national sufficiency in dairy production to reduce the huge amount spent on importation of dairy products in order to bridge the huge gap between supply and demand.
” Successive Administrations had made efforts to close the gap through programmes such as Dairy Development Programme, National Livestock Breed Improvement Programme, among others thus creating opportunity for private sector participation.
” The draft policy will support the implementation of the National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Plan (NATIP) and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).
” It will give defined direction for the country’s dairy industry where all players at whatever scale will be expected to abide by rules of operation, in terms of production, processing and marketing of dairy products in Nigeria.
” I am glad that we are gradually approaching the stage of finalising the draft document by this validation workshop.
” This effort at putting in place a National Dairy Policy for the country is apt for the realisation of the vision of the Federal Government articulated through the change approach and a standard practice to be applied at every level of society, public and private, towards a pragmatic national development.
” This approach is to significantly reduce importation of livestock and livestock products and at the same time stimulate exports to enhance national income generation.
” The private sector will remain in the lead while government will provide the enabling environment through policies, infrastructure, systems control processes and oversight support,” he said.
Earlier, Mrs Winnie Lai- Solarin, the Director, Department of Animal Husbandry Services, Ministry of Agriculture, said that the role of the dairy industry could not be overemphasised as far as quality nutrition and overall food security were concerned.
She noted that the dairy subsector has been impeded with many issues and institutional challenges that have prevented its growth alongside other agricultural subsectors.
“The major issue is that of low milk yield, poor handling and post-harvest losses of dairy products.
” We need to continually improve the productivity of the dairy animals genetically, health and management practices to be able to respond to market-driven productivity objectives.
” There is need for a mechanism to effectively regulate the dairy sector at all levels starting from animal breeding, milk collection, Processing and marketing.
“The National Dairy Policy will give framework for improving productivity of the dairy sector in a well-planned and sustainable manner across the various agro-ecological zones of the country”, she said.
In his goodwill message, Prof. Hussaini Ibrahim, the Director- General, Raw Material Research Development Council, noted that a national dairy policy was a fundamental base needed to drive viable dairy industry.
Ibrahim, who was represented by Dr Mary Abiareye, expressed the readiness of the Agency to partner in the progress for the upgrading of Nigeria’s Local Dairy Sector.
” This is a very important draft document having inputs from wider stakeholders that will direct and guide operations of the dairy sector.
” There is no doubt that validation of this workable policy catering the interest of every player in the diary industry will stimulate and drive a viable dairy sector.
” This is a very important draft document to guide and direct the operations of dairy products in Nigeria,” he said.
Also, Mr Temi Adegoroye, Managing Partner, Sahel Consulting Agriculture and Nutrition Limited, noted that the policy document was timely and a significant milestone in the agricultural sector.
He said it would guide both private and public investments as well strengthen the small dairy producers in Nigeria as well as the dairy sector.
On his part, the Registrar, Animal Science Institute of Nigeria, Prof, Eustace Iyayi, who was represented by Mrs Bisi Akinfolarin, said the document would reposition the diary sub- sector in Nigeria.(NAN)