By Etuka Sunday
In consolidating the gains of exiting Nigeria’s recession and repositioning the different sectors of the economy, the President/CE of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, has called for the adoption of modern innovations and technologies to meet World standard in livestock production in order to increase government revenue and contribute substantially to the quality of diet of Nigerians.
In a good-will message to the National Conference on The Transformation of the Nigerian Livestock Industry, yesterday, in Abuja, Dangote said the adoption of massive modern technology will help tackle beef deficiency, satisfy dairy production and serve as revenue from hides and skin business for improved economy.
The chairman of Africa’s conglomerate, said it is in line with complimenting government effort in this direction that Dangote Group is planning investment of $800m in dairy production in the country and raising the bar on agriculture generally.
He expressed the need to urgently resolve the challenges currently facing the industry like the intractable clashes between herdsmen and farmers with serious implication on peaceful coexistence and food security saying, with the dwindling fortunes of the oil and gas sectors, it is doubtful that the country will be able to feed its teeming population at some point if it does not improve other sectors like the livestock agric sub-sector.
Represented by the Group Executive Director, Engr. Mansur Ahmed, Dangote said transforming the livestock system is critical to the nation’s economy as it is currently one of the fastest growing agricultural sub-sectors in developing countries and the industry is being organised for improved market chains.
However, “transforming today’s livestock practices alone, without adopting the strategies and modern technologies adopted the world over, will not get us there”. He stated.
“It is in line with the current administration’s commitment to livestock development, that the Dangote Group plans an investment of $800m in dairy production, having finalised plans to invest $4.6bn in growing the Group’s agriculture business in the country”.
The President/CE commended the current policy direction of private sector involvement in livestock and in actualising the national conference after an all encompassing national policy draft that would address livestock matters like the grazing reserves and systematic cattle breed improvement in the country.
The vice president, Prof. Osinbajo, while declaring the 4-Day national conference open, said the challenges of cattle rustling, eating of farm produce, and the violence that have characterised the system were being tackled as the Federal Government has, through its Interior Ministry, initiated a newly constituted security group known as the Agro Rangers with 3000 trained personnel to protect the ranches in the country.
“We are aware that you have lost cattle while farms have been invaded. The rangers will protect your investments at no cost, with insurance cover.
Osinbajo, in supporting the private sector initiative, unveiled a new technology milking machine with capacity to milk 50 cows in an hour while disclosing that more machines would be brought in to provide milk for Nigerians.
Represented by Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Audu Ogbe, Osinbajo expressed regret that most people could hardly afford to buy milk, which is vital for the growth of children.
Governors of Benue, Kebbi and Ebonyi states, lamented livestock issues in their states and called for proactive measures by government towards resolving them.
Chairman, senate committee on agriculture, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu, urged the conference to identify the problems of the livestock industry in Nigeria and ways to tackle them so as to tap from its resources and develop the economy because grazing reserves and routes gazetted decades ago have been abandoned.