Following the observed neglect of the livestock sector and its burden on the import bills of the country, the Federal Government of Nigeria, through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, expressed readiness to review and approve the national dairy policy and regulatory framework, as part of efforts to improve the dairy sub-sector. According to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mahmood Abubakar, the development hinged on the need to satisfy national demand for milk and dairy products nationwide.
He informed that revamping the dairy sector also fell under the national food security policy, stressing that there was no way food security can be extricated from nutrition security. However, he mentioned that the Vice President of the country, President Yemi Osinbajo, who chairs the National Council on Nutrition, had also advocated the need for the establishment of the nutrition department in several Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
It will be recalled that in 2021, the Federal Government and Sahel Consulting, through the Advancing Local Dairy Development in Nigeria (ALDDN) programme, had drawn stakeholders from the public and private sectors, to critically review and provide recommendations to the draft of the policy prepared by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The minister of agriculture had then raised concerns that over 60 per cent of dairy products consumed in the country was from importation and this calls for the passing of the proposed dairy policy to unlock the potentials of the dairy sector and induce interest in its development.
In February 2023, the Nigerian government had signed a five-year agreement with an European dairy cooperative, Ara Foods, to develop the dairy industry in Nigeria. The new five-year agreement was signed during an event at the Arla Innovation Centre in Aarhus, attended by a delegation from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, led by its Permanent Secretary, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, and representatives from Arla. The agreement is expected to see to the development of the local dairy sector by encouraging cooperative business structures among nomadic herders, providing opportunities for training and knowledge sharing, continuing product development with focus on sustainability, generating employment and enhancing better living conditions for nearby dairy farmers.
The ministry is seeking the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approval for the draft National Dairy Policy, to regulate the Nigerian dairy industry by providing the framework and guiding principles for the development of an efficient dairy sub-sector. Nigeria’s milk production, estimated at 600,000 metric tonnes (MT), accounts for only 13 per cent of West African production. Currently, domestic production dwarfs local demand, which is estimated at 1.3MMT, leading to a shortfall that had often been met by imports. As of 2022, Nigeria is said to be importing 60 per cent of the dairy products it consumes and spending about $1.5 billion yearly on importation of the product. The National Diary Policy, when approved, would among others, help to increase local production, as well as marketing of dairy products in Nigeria and also reduce importation of the product.