Afees Adeoye Writes on Changing Smallholder Farmers’ behaviour towards buying Animal Feed
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization’s World Cattle Inventory in 2018, Nigeria has the 4th largest cattle population in Africa with over 20 million cattle out of which about 12% is used for dairy production. Conversely, the Central Bank of Nigeria reported in 2020 that 1.65 million tonnes of milk are imported per annum to supplement the 526,000 litres produced locally which amount to $1.3 billion. This low productivity and high imports of dairy products are due to the critical challenges faced by the sector including the limited access to good quality animal feed and water for efficient local dairy production. This challenge has lingered for decades and would not be addressed without the intervention of the public and private sectors through capacity building, infrastructure development, inputs and production resources support for smallholder dairy farmers and advocacy for behavioural change as well as strategic and favourable policies.
Dairy animal feed is mainly categorized into feed concentrates and fodder crops. Common crops cultivated for animal feed include grasses: forage maize, Andropogon gayanus (Gamba grass), Brachriaria decumbens (Signal grass), Chloris gayana (Rhodes grass) and Pennisetum purpureum (Napier grass); and legumes: Lablab, Alfalfa, and Soybean. Both are nutritious and have a high rate of acceptability, if well produced and formulated in the right proportion. Examples of feed concentrates include soybean meal, cottonseed meal, groundnut cake, maize, wheat offal, maize offal etc. The average cost of feeding a local dairy cow per day is 450 Naira (approximately 1 USD) at the consumption rate of 3% of its body weight.
Read more: Business Day