Abuja — Nigeria is said to import milk worth over $1.5 billion annually. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono who disclosed this at the National Dairy Policy Stakeholders meeting in Abuja yesterday, said the government is now ready to do everything possible to develop the local dairy sector to enable it meet local demand.
Nigeria's annual demand for milk is 1.6 billion litres, but it can only produce 672 million litres which is just about 40 per cent of local demand, leaving the rest to be imported.
He said despite the fact that Nigeria has over 20 million cows, the nation is far behind when it comes to dairy products.
According to him, "Presently, the Nigerian dairy industry is largely subsistence and consists of local milk production, importation, processing, marketing and consumption. Nigeria's milk production accounts for only 13 per cent of West African production and 0.01 per cent of global dairy output.
"The gap between supply and demand for dairy products is widening as a result of increase in population and urbanisation."
He said it is in view of the need to address the situation that the daft national dairy policy is being developed and charged stakeholders at the event to critically work out ways of ensuring that the dairy sector of the Nigerian economy is made to contribute effectively.
Earlier in his goodwill message, minister of industry, trade and investment, Otumba Niyi Adebayo, said it is unfortunate that a nation like Nigeria with over 20 million cows, only 2.3 million are utilised for large scale dairy production.
He charged the stakeholders especially players and investors to critically consider and vet the draft policy document with a view to making it richer and all encompassing.
He assure that government will consider and harness the inputs, observations and contributions arising from the meeting to be able to take a position that would be in the best interest of the dairy industry and the economy in general.
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, who was represented by Dr Anthony Ikechukwu, said the apex bank was ever ready to support genuine efforts meant to develop the nation's agricultural sector.
He said that the bank has been at the forefront of dairy development in the country.