The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Muhammed Abubakar, yesterday said the federal government is currently working to provide incentives to feed millers and agribusiness companies as well as support various research institutes in developing alternative feed ingredients for production of animal feeds.
The minister who lamented that animal feed accounted for over 70 per cent of the cost of animal production, thereby making it the most important consideration in a livestock business, said the government was determined to check the high cost of feeds in the country.
Speaking at the opening of the maiden National Animal Feed Summit with the theme :”Developing a Roadmap for Animal Feed Security in Nigeria” in Abuja, he said if properly harnessed, the feed sector has the potential to engage over 20 million Nigerians, adding that the industry is yet to reach 25 per cent of its market size.
Abubakar said the sector currently engages over five million Nigerians directly or indirectly as technical or skilled personnel, distributors, fabricators of tools and machinery, input suppliers among others.
The sector, he said, generates massive employment across various value chains and strengthens the national social safety net with copious contributions to food security, household income and poverty reduction.
According to him, as at 2016, the Nigerian feed industry produces an average of 5.5 million metric tonnes of animal feed per annum comprising 85 per cent poultry feeds.
He expressed optimism that with the emergence of commercial ruminant and swine feed in the industry, the sector will produce about 50 million metric tonnes per an um of animal feed.
Represented at the occasion by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, the minister said part of the measures towards addressing the high cost of animal feed as well as enhancing its production was to incentivise feed mills to locate in rural areas where feed ingredients are largely available.
He said the government was also working to improve on the level of education of farmers on modern animal and feed production techniques.
He added that to transform the sector, the country must embark on livestock feed production, industrialisation, feed value chain development, development of national animal feed and feed safety policy as well as establishment of national strategic feed and feed ingredient reserve centre among others.
Abubakar further assured that the ministry would continue to give attention to the animal feed need of farmers through an enduring policy that would transform the country’s livestock and agriculture for the benefit of Nigerians.
He said, “Nigeria will succeed. Nigeria will unleash hope for its livestock farmers, as it accelerates way forward for animal feed security.
“Nigeria must feed its animals to feed itself. And if it fully unlocks its livestock feed potentials, Nigeria can help feed Africa.”
He said the feed sector constituted a challenge to animal husbandry practices, largely due to high cost of animal feeds, which are not readily available and not easily affordable by an average farmer if available.
He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on many sectors particularly the livestock sub-sector through reduced availability of animal feed ingredients, labour shortage, processing facilities, inputs and services, thereby reducing access of animal feed to markets and consumers.