GOLDEN HARVEST Opportunities for milk production, transportation and marketing in Nigeria
Nigeria with a population of over 170 million is grossly under provided with essential food components like proteins which are critical for the realisation and development of human potential both mentally and physically. Data from various sources indicate that less than 2kg of beef is available to the average Nigerian per year and just a mere 4kg of eggs per year. With regards to milk, the availability is far less because of low production and high prices.
To ameliorate the problem of low protein intake, there is need for concerted efforts to bring about a massive production of protein-based foods such as milk through investment in livestock production.
Although, Nigeria is the largest producer of cow milk in West Africa and the third in Africa, the country is still a net importer of the product. The estimated demand of milk in Nigeria is about 1,529,354.4 tons annually. Local production on the other hand, from the projected 22, 750,000 head of cattle out of which only 3,640,000 would be lactating is just 920,920 tons per annum. Thus, the estimated gap between supply and demand is about 608, 434 tons annually.
Various interventions have been tried in Nigeria to encourage and commercialise milk production. Governments at various times have established commercial dairy farms with mainly imported Friesian cattle and supplemented this with milk collection schemes.
Processing plants were established to take in the locally collected milk including that which has been produced on the farms. Still, milk powder and butter oil had to gradually replaced the locally produced product. This was consequent to high cost of maintaining imported dairy cows and low genetic potential of the local cattle including poor feeding. As a result, the projects collapsed. Another major contributor to the failure of the local dairy industry, was the high value of the naira which favoured imports over local production.
However, the introduction of the structural adjustment programme in 1986 coupled with the devaluation of the naira significantly altered the relative price index of imported dairy products. The result of this was the shifting of the comparative advantage of the dairy industry to local producers. The World Bank under the closed Second Livestock Development Project, allocated funds for pilot dairy development and built up milk collection cooperative associations to provide raw material for the SLDP supported dairy plant in Kaduna. The Kaduna Milk Producers Cooperative Association was established in 1992 with its products marketed under the brand name of MILCOPAL. The programme had two major components: a commercial component comprising of a central milk processing plant, that processes locally collected milk from pastoralists into various dairy products, owned by the Cooperative Federation, and a development component that was responsible for identification, registration, training and extending new technologies to farmer organisations.
The programme became a huge success. About 40 cooperative milk associations were registered in Kaduna State and seven viable milk collection routes were established. The average daily collection ranged between 400 to 1,320 litres in dry and wet seasons respectively. On seeing the potential of the scheme in increasing income and creating jobs in the rural areas, the KDSG agreed to sell the Kaduna Dairy plant it inherited from the federal government at a discounted price, to the umbrella organisation of the cooperatives. The World Bank put up the bill. In addition to the commercial benefits that accrued to the participating cooperative societies, the project provided job opportunities to young secondary school leavers in the remote rural areas who were employed as secretaries of the primary cooperative societies. Their salaries were paid from the commission that each society gets from the quantity of milk it supplied to the Cooperative Federation.
The Kaduna Milk Cooperative Federation, the umbrella organisation has been of great benefit to pastoralists that participated in the programme. Women no longer had to hawk milk in the markets, since collection is at their door steps. The programme also encouraged sedenterisation as pastoralists leave some cattle in the grazing reserves during their dry season transhumance.
Replication of the milk cooperative development programme will bring immense economic benefit to the country. It will reduce imports, increase local income, address issues of rural poverty and unemployment, encourage sedenterisation and save foreign exchange.
The government of Muhammadu Buhari has committed itself to the development of the agricultural sector as a means to reduce poverty and provide employment. Therefore, the government should seriously consider making a cooperative dairy development programme a top priority in its agricultural agenda. India, a country that has about 10 times the population of Nigeria is today self-sufficient in milk production through a farmer-based cooperative milk development programme.
Dr. Yahuza can be reached at email@example.com
ASTC dearing farm in Plateau State