• Tuesday, March 05, 2024
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BusinessDay

Making the livestock plan work for Nigeria

livestock

Four months after official approval by the National Economic Council on January 17, 2019, there has been official silence on the implementation of the trillion Naira National Livestock Transformation Plan. First introduced in June 2018, NEC sealed the deal on the plan following a memo from Agriculture Minister Audu Ogbeh. The lofty objectives of the National Livestock Transformation Plan require strict and active implementation and information to stakeholders at every stage and milestone.”

BusinessDay called attention to the tardiness in the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan in April 2019. It is now back on the front burner following a failed coup that sought to transmute the NLTP into a land grab scheme. We call attention again to the imperative of faithful implementation of policy and timeliness in doing so.

We noted further: “The National Livestock Transformation Plan (2018–2027), is ‘a multifaceted intervention that will modernize livestock management in Nigeria and help achieve improved productivity and security.’ According to the Federal Government, ‘The National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) is a comprehensive one that covers everything from Economic Investment to Humanitarian Interventions to Conflict Resolution and Strengthening of Law and Order. “

To underscore its scale and significance, the National Economic Council approved a N1trilllion Federal Government initial investment. Government states, however, that the NLTP would be a public-private sector project. It believes that the project would attract additional investments of N2trillion and quadruple that figure over the initial lifespan of ten years. Government assured that “the implementation of the Plan will be coordinated at both Federal and State Levels. This multi-level partnership is critical to the success of the Plan.”

Many issues require urgent attention as Government finally reverts to implementation of the NLTP. One is the matter of data. Nigeria does not have the statistics of its livestock, both cattle and others in the livestock value chain. A census of national livestock, state by state, should be one of the first tasks of the implementation team. Such a baseline study would provide a basis for planning and fund allocation.

The NLTP premise is of public-private partnership. The muddying of the waters with Ruga Settlements has now positioned it as a wholly government interventionist scheme. There is need to go back to the fundaments and have government serve only as accelerator rather than sole funder. Livestock management as part of the agriculture value chain is still a private business venture. It should remain so.

Scale matters. The advantages that huge scale offers are the critical selling point and justification for government intervention and direct engagement. It is also one sure way of ensuring that the NLTP delivers visible impact in increased livestock count within a determined time frame. Projects under NLTP should be huge scale and high impact, not small lots. Small lots would do only if they are in such large numbers as to collectively deliver scale.

Value exchange should be a driving force and one of the ways to ensure that the NLTP delivers on the goal of ending herder-farmer clashes. Let each region concentrate on its comparative advantage. The South should grow and provide rich fodder for the cattle in the North in exchange for meat from the North.

Utilise all assets. Fingers across Nigeria keep pointing in the direction of the vast land resource in the Sambisa Forest. It served in the past as a reserve for keeping many species of animals. There is now a national need to explore and exploit what that space offers for animal husbandry to the benefit of all Nigerians. Beyond Sambisa, deploy all spaces such as the ranches built in the past by various governments across the regions.

Information and communication are essential to delivery of this policy. Because of the many sensitivities it attracts, made even more so by the failed introduction of the Ruga Settlements scheme, Government should prioritise sharing of information about the NLTP with all stakeholders. First is to douse the fire lit by Ruga. Next is to do Communication, Information and Enlightenment on what the NLTP can and cannot do as well as what it would realistically deliver.

Fairness is critical. NLTP must implement measures that speak to its goal of justice and reconciliation. Ruga Settlement scheme failed primarily for favouring one side to the conflict. NLTP should identify victims of the clashes or terrorism, attend to them on all sides, while delivering on its mandate of enabling an environment of peace for livestock production. It should deliver increased productivity and higher numbers for Nigerian livestock. Ahead.