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FG plans to unveil animal feed policy to boost livestock production

The federal government is planning to launch a National Animal Feed Policy document to address challenges limiting the livestock industry in the country.

Ernest Umakhihe, permanent secretary at Federal Ministry of Agriculture made this known during the African Union InterAfrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR)’s Resilient African Feed and Fodder Systems (RAFFS) Project Inception forum in Abuja.

He expressed the concern of the government over the spiraling cost of feed and its impact on the poultry and livestock industries.

Umakhile who was represented by Fausat Lawal, director special duties, stated that the government is determined to promote innovative approaches to animal feed production to militate the challenges in the subsector.

According to him, the COVID-19 pandemic and vulnerability to natural disasters highlighted the urgency to further boost the nation’ food security.

He said challenges such as high cost of feeds are driving a surge in food prices and inflation.

Highlighting the importance of RAFFS project inception workshop, profiling and launch of AWARFA-N Nigeria, and launch of the feed and fodder assessment, he noted that it was a timely intervention that will firm up solutions to tackle food security and identify fodder opportunities to support farmers.

Also, Huyam Salih, director at AU-IBAR, lamented that Africa is highly dependent on global importation of livestock products with an annual import bill of over $4 billion.

She noted the loss of 9.5 million livestock, worth over $2 billion, in the recent drought in the Greater of Africa region.

“This is equivalent to about twice the total food import budget for Kenya or thrice the export value of coffee from Uganda, Africa’s largest coffee exporter, which earned $876 million in 2022,” Salih who was represented by Sarah Ashanut Ossiya, RAFFS project officer said.

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In the West Africa and Central Africa regions, she also said that some of the costs of unarticulated feed and fodder sectors are the persistent conflicts over feed resources between herders or breeders and crop farmers.

This, she added, often has escalated to tribal and even religion-based divides, and yet the underlying factors could include feed and fodder constraints.

She stressed the need to address the gaps. Achieving this, she noted that it would require a well-developed feed and fodder sector to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement which has emerged as a lucrative and growing market.

She explained that livestock assets contribute to food security and are an important source of protein and minerals for nutritional security.

According to her, the project seeks to engage with a wide range of stakeholders to strengthen the capacity of farmers to experiment with and use fodder technologies to make the sector more productive, resilient, equitable and sustainable.

The project approach, however, she emphasized, was a co-design one with the objective to work with the public and private sector and partners to co-create and deliver demand-driven innovation packages for feed and fodder production that aims to improve livelihoods and farmers ability to adapt to a changing climate and inclusiveness through livestock.

She posited that Nigeria was identified as one of the six core countries for the implementation of the project.

Others are Cameroon, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda and Zimbabwe. She disclosed also that Nigeria was the second country in which the organisation was launching the RAFFS initiative

According to her, the Nigeria RAFFS Project gives visibility to the initiative and importance of improving access to feed and fodder, and to participate in rolling out the in-country assessment of the effect of the 3C – crises climate change, covid-19 and the Eastern Europe conflict on feed and fodder supply chains.

The findings, she indicated, will inform development of country short-term interventions to address feed and fodder shortages.

She said the RAFFS Project will support consolidation of its five-year strategy and resource mobilization plan.

While livestock is a pathway to better nutrition outcomes, she observed that Nigerians and most neighboring countries are consuming well below the global average of per capita consumption of livestock sourced proteins.

For this reason, she noted that there was a need to link livestock production to meeting human nutrition targets.

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