Written By Omokhegho Momoh.
Do you know that to kill a great idea, legislation or government initiative in Nigeria you just need to clothe it in politics, ethnicity, religion and regionalism?
Do you know that Niger State has a land mass of 76,363 km² while Nederland is 41,543 km²?
This means Niger State is about 1.8 times larger than the country, Netherlands (Holland).
Lagos state with an estimated population of about 20 million is more populated than Netherlands, a country with a population of 17 million.
Niger State in Nigeria has the most arable land in the country, located in the north central, it has no single desert. One begins to wonder why Nigeria is still struggling to meet her basic food and especially her diary needs.
Here are some facts about Netherland’s dairy industry (from Dairy Facts):
• The Netherlands exports 78% of its milk production, which accounts for 14% of the EU dairy exports.
• The Dutch company, Friesland Campina (Peak Milk) is the world’s sixth largest dairy company.
• Global average milk yield is 2,200 litres per cow, it is 4 times higher in the Netherlands, that is 8,800 litres. In Nigeria the daily yield of a cow is about 2 litres per day, meaning per year it is 730 litres.
• The Netherlands is the world’s leading exporter of milking machines, with 30% of the world’s market.
• The company Alta genetics, of the Dutch Koepon Holding, is the world’s second biggest in cattle genetics
• The Netherlands is the world’s top exporter of animal feed, with a total value of almost €3 billion annually.
According to the former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, a cow averagely produces 50 litres of milk daily in Netherlands while the cows in United states of America consume up to 100 litres of water daily, in contrast the Nigerian cow produces about 1 to 2 litres of milk daily and may not even have up to 2 litres of water a week, simply put, our cows are malnourished.
On one of my trips from London to Manchester a couple of years ago using a train, I saw kilometres of massive lands dedicated to ranches for the breeding of livestock.
So why are we playing politics with Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) or is it the National Livestock Transformation Plan?
In January 2018 the Governor of Kogi state, Yahaya Bello pledged land as his vision was to make Kogi the Holland of Nigeria in terms of dairy production.
The governor of Niger State also pledged land in Kantagora. The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo also inaugurated the Live Stock Transformation Plan pilot scheme in Mayo-Belwa Local Government Area of Adamawa.
This is 2 to 3 years since the conversation began about turning our dairy potentials into a massive industry, this is the time to take stock and review progress if any. Unless just like most laudable ideas, it has all become drowned in politics, religion, ethnicity and regionalism.
Why is Niger State alone not producing the milk that will cater for the demands of the whole of Nigeria?
The answer is that we have been unable to transform the State’s arable land mass, available water resources to build ranches or hubs with latest technology and pilot these cardinal combinations with international best practice.
These is the dire move we need to make now to actualise our dairy potentials.
It is time for new thinking, let us forget the grazing routes and reserves and begin to see this as big business with lots of opportunities.
The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is about to be debated by the National Assembly, this is a bill that has spent over 16 years without passage, due to the afore mentioned reasons.
There is also the ongoing debate about the National Water Bill, my admonition is for us to take a step back and for once put development and the common good of all before politics and self-interest.
No country develops where politics, high cost of governance and overheads is placed before development.
The revolution we need at this point is for government to roll up her sleeves and become the enabler that will transform our dairy industry.
It has not just health benefits for our growing children but the move would also engage our youths in gainful employment and earn us the badly needed foreign exchange.
It is estimated that we spend about $1.3billion on dairy product importation yearly. If such funds were put to other use within our shores, what do you think will be our lot in the next four to five years? Your unbiased imagination is as good as mine. For now, I rest my case.
Write from Kaduna