Dairy production in Nigeria remains one of the essential agricultural production sectors in the country. Although the dairy sector faces numerous challenges, it also has a substantial prospect for the government, individuals, and the nation, if appropriately managed. FAO estimates the country’s annual consumption for dairy and milk products to be about 1.3 billion tonnes; this is very low as the recommended milk consumption by World health organization is 210 liters per person annually. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Nigeria consumes just 8 liters of milk per person.
The trend in consumption has seen improvement over the years. There is an increasing demand for milk and dairy products due to the growing population and rising knowledge of nutrition and the benefits of milk and dairy products. Despite this, there are many challenges facing dairy production in Nigeria. The sad reality is that dairy farming in Nigeria is still highly underdeveloped. Currently, we import 60% of dairy products consumed in the country. According to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) reports, Nigeria spends between $1.2 billion and $1.5 billion annually importing milk and dairy products.
A lot needs to be done to develop the dairy sector of the country. One way to go about it is getting familiar with the industry, the various challenges, and also creating solutions to tackle these challenges. First, let’s learn more about what dairy production is and what it entails.
What is dairy production?
What comes to mind when we hear about dairy production? Many people probably think of cows and our regular milk, but dairy production goes beyond that. In simple terms, we can define dairy production or farming as livestock farming that deals with the long-term production of milk and processing of milk into further by-products for human consumption.
Various farm or livestock(mammal) animals can be used for commercial dairy production; this includes cows, goats, sheep, camels, and buffaloes. Among all these animals, the major species used for dairy production in Nigeria are dairy cows; this is because of the ability of cows to produce large quantities of milk.
Dairy cattle production in Nigeria
The use of cows highly characterizes dairy production in Nigeria. Most of the cows used for milk production are indigenous breeds and double as milk and meat producers. Although there has been a recent trend in the use of exotic species such as Holstein Friesian, jersey, and brown swiss, and this is still less common and only used by a few specialized dairy farms. According to FAO, 95% of milk and dairy production in Nigeria is done by local herders primarily concentrated in the northern part of the country. Most of the their products are small-scale and consumed majorly by households or small local markets.
Challenges of dairy cattle production in Nigeria
There are various problems facing dairy production in Nigeria, from poor infrastructure to lack of funds. These are key challenges that need to be solved in other to develop the dairy industry in Nigeria.
Here we outline the problems of dairy production in Nigeria and how Farmcenta is playing its part in solving this problem.
High cost of production:
Dairy production is a sector that requires a considerable amount of capital for its success. From equipment needed to technical know-how, one needs to have a reasonable amount of funds to get the best result. Unfortunately, most people involved in dairy cattle production in Nigeria are small-scale farmers and can’t afford the cost of production. This has created an enormous challenge in the production of dairy products.
it is one of the significant problems of dairy production in Nigeria. Most farmers do not have access to funds that could help boost their production level and get the required equipment. Farmcenta, through its financial and credit service, recently launched a service that enables small-scale cattle farmers to get access to loans and credit.
Lack of modern equipment and technical know-how
The use of crude and substantial equipment highly characterized dairy production in Nigeria. Also, most dairy farmers are not enlightened about the modern and innovative method of dairy production; This remains one of the critical problems of dairy production in Nigeria. From the nomadic way of raising the cows to the insufficient method of collection and distribution of milk, as hindered the development of the dairy industry. Farmcenta, through its extension networks, has also helped to educate cattle farmers on the modern and healthy methods of dairy and milk production.
Poor market structure
Like every other sector in the agricultural industry, the dairy sector also faces many challenges regarding market structures. Due to bad roads, insufficient market knowledge, and other reasons, most dairy farmers do not have access to potential markets. And tend to either sell their product at a very unprofitable price or end up losing most of their produce to wastage. Farmcenta, through its commodity aggregation, helps create a premium market for farmers by aggregating milk from them and selling it to premium producers.
Most breeds have less milk production capacity and are highly susceptible to infection and diseases. These have created an enormous problem in dairy production in Nigeria, as dairy farmers rarely get the expected milk they want from their cattle. Farmers also face many challenges regarding animal health because of poor management and other reasons. Most times, these local farmers do not have access to or can not afford veterinary doctors. Farmcenta collaborates with experienced veterinarians and stakeholders, such as Friesland Campina WAMCO to improve local breeds through cross-breeding and artificial insemination.
Although enormous challenges face the dairy industry in Nigeria, the sector has many potential and excellent prospects if appropriately managed. There is a massive market for locally produced milk and dairy products. Recently, CBN restricted milk importation and its foreign exchange sales. This policy would eliminate the importation of milk and, therefore, boost local production. With government effort, research institutes, policy makers, and private sectors such as Farmcenta, dairy cattle production in Nigeria will see a lot of development and also explores its full potential.