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FG mulls alternative feed sources to boost animal production

Proper seed system will drive agriculture sector growth – Minister

The Federal Government and development partners are considering national alternative feed sources to reduce the cost of production as well as price volatility in the animal feed industry.

Mohammad Abubakar, the minister of agriculture and rural development, dropped the hint at the 2nd National Animal Feed Summit held in Abuja on Wednesday.

According to Abubakar, the role of animal feed was critical to provide essential nutrients and support for livestock production in Nigeria.

For him, in order to meet the increasing demand for animal feed in Nigeria, there was a need for innovation and technology to develop sustainable and efficient production methods which would support small-scale and rural communities.

“Animal feed market is characterised by a mix of small and large scale, traditional and modern methods of production. This is coupled with challenges such as lack of access to credit and markets, low investment in research and development amongst others.

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“To meet the increasing demand for animal feed in Nigeria, there is a need for innovation and technology to develop sustainable and efficient production methods which would support small-scale and rural communities,” he said.

According to the minister, the summit with the theme ‘Harnessing Alternative Feed Resources for Sustainable Animal Feed Supply’ aligns with the aspirations and agenda of the government to improve the animal feed policy, feed value chain, feed quality control and safety, national strategic feed reserve among others.

He, therefore, charged stakeholders to deliberate on a single platform, strategies and come up with robust implementable national animal Feed policy.

In his remark, the permanent secretary in the ministry, Ernest Umakhihe said that Nigeria’s animal feed industry was far from meeting national sufficiency in production.

According to Umakhihe, who was represented by the director of fisheries and aquaculture, Imeh Umoh, Nigeria was known to produce an average of 5.5 million tonnes per annum, comprising 85 percent poultry feeds.

“Nigeria has the potential to grow not less than 50 million metric tonnes per annum, if the commercial ruminant and swine feeding sub-sectors were harnessed.

“The feed sector has the potential to engage over 20 million Nigerians, as the industry is yet to reach 25 percent of its market size.”

Umakhihe noted that Nigeria’s animal feed sector remained underdeveloped, due to high cost of ingredients and other production factors, which resulted in market dislocation and hampered access to products, thereby barring an average farmer from the supply net.

“These challenges have necessitated the need for the National Animal Feed Summit,” he added.

In his goodwill message, the managing partner, Sahel Consulting Agriculture and Nutrition, Temi Adegoroye stated that achieving food security in Nigeria was a non-negotiable goal that requires all collaborative stakeholders in Nigeria.

“We must leverage our comparative advantage to proffer solutions to the challenges in the animal feed. As we continue to experience the impact of climate change in agriculture activities, we need to explore sustainable practices in animal feed production to guarantee farmers access to affordable feed all year round.”