How Nigeria can bridge $1.3bn annual dairy import

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Nigeria can only bridge its estimated annual $1.3 billion dairy import when the Federal Government provides the needed infrastructure to drive investment and help reduce cost of production, experts say.

Nigeria has failed to grow its dairy industry in recent years despite efforts by the government to boost local production owing to the lack of competitiveness of manufacturers which is stalling the hope of ever having a flourishing dairy sector.

The farmers’ situation is further worsened by the low productivity of local cattle breeds and increasing tension and conflicts between herders and farmers.

Experts say that the inability of local manufacturers to compete could halt investments in the sector and progress made by the government in boosting local milk production to meet domestic demand.

“We are not globally competitive in dairy production. It cost about N300 to produce a litre of milk in Nigeria as against imported powdered milk which is about N150 per litre,” Muhammadu Abubakar, managing director, L &Z Integrated Farms Limited told BusinessDay.

“This is coupled with the fact that the Federal Government had lowered the tariff on imported milk last year and with the difficult operating environment, then how can local dairy farmers compete with producing a litre of milk at N300?” Abubakar asked.

Livestock productivity in Africa’s most populous country is among the lowest globally. Holstein Friesian, a breed of dairy cattle from Netherlands average milk yield is 35-40 litres per day while Nigeria’s most popular cattle breed Bunaji (white Fulani) has an average milk yield of 1-2 litres per day.

This underscores the need for the government to prioritise breed improvement for farmers to increase their yields per litre.

Africa’s most populous country dairy industry comprises milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice-cream, butter and infant formula.

A report by Agusto & Co. …