Sahel and CODARAN Hold Virtual Dairy Conference on Catalyzing Local Dairy Development in Nigeria

The Nigerian Dairy Sector has evolved tremendously over the years. Though successes have been recorded within the dairy value chain, challenges still abound. These challenges hamper productivity across the value chain and this translates to an inadequate supply of dairy products in the market from the local industry. Consequently, Nigeria depends heavily on imports to meet the huge demand for dairy products.

To examine these challenges and chart a way forward for the dairy industry, Sahel Consulting through the Advancing Local Dairy Development in Nigeria (ALDDN) program, partnered with the Commercial Dairy Ranchers Association of Nigeria (CODARAN) to host the 2020 Dairy Conference on Thursday, November 12. The Conference had as theme: “Catalyzing Local Dairy Development in Nigeria: Lessons from Local and International Models” and brought together local and international experts and industry practitioners who proposed best practices that Nigeria can adopt to develop its dairy industry.

In their welcome remarks, Mrs. Ndidi Nwuneli, Co-founder and Managing Partner at Sahel Consulting Nigeria and Alhaji Muhammadu Abubakar, President of CODARAN and Managing Director of L&Z Integrated Farms Nigeria introduced ALDDN and CODARAN, respectively and tasked participants to take advantage of the wealth of experience of the conference speakers and panelists to enhance the productivity of their businesses to enable Nigeria to achieve self-sufficiency in dairy production.

The first-panel session, moderated by Dr. Hafsat Ali Grema, the Productivity Improvement Manager at Sahel Consulting Nigeria, focused on achieving self-sufficiency in the Nigerian Dairy Sector, drawing lessons from international sustainable models. The discussants on the panel were Dr. Annabelle Daburon, a Livestock Value Chain Advisor at the Chez Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and Dr. Asaah Ndambi, a Senior International Animal Production Specialist from the same university in the Netherlands. Others were Dr. Charles Odhong, a Livestock Production System Specialist at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, and Mr. Rob La Grange, a Dairy Expert at Western Dairy, Australia.

These experts unanimously recommended that the Nigerian Dairy Industry players should embark on innovations that are smallholder farmers oriented.  Being the mainstay of any vibrant dairy industry, focusing on the smallholder farmers have enormous benefits. Initiatives like building resilience among the farmers and fostering gender inclusivity by increasing the number of women in the sector are key to improving yield. This increment would have far-reaching benefits on local economies, leading to improved livelihoods. They proposed market-focused extension service models that would create the required nexus between farming practices and market requirements.

The second-panel session focused on the critical role a sound policy environment plays in the development of an economy. Moderated by Ndidi Nwuneli, Managing Partner at Sahel Consulting Nigeria, the session featured Mr. Steve Hossen, a rural consultant in Western Australia, Mrs. Amina Ahmed Habib, Deputy Director and the Dairy Team Lead at the Central Bank of Nigeria, and Mr. Rajesh Gupta, the Head, Cooperative Services Group, National Dairy Development Board of India.

In his discourse, Mr. Hossen highlighted several policy initiatives that have worked in Australia, including a subtle subsidy regime that provides farmers the latitude to produce, and a financing system that allows farmers to borrow up to $5m to invest in their businesses. He advised against excessive protectionism and suggested a gradual increase in tariffs on imports and encouraging backward integration as ways of growing the local dairy industry.

The Indian example shared by Mr. Rajesh Gupta was inspiring. According to Mr. Gupta, India has over 100 million farmers engaged in dairy production. He discussed expansively the role of cooperatives in the development of the dairy sector in India. From financing to capacity building, the cooperatives make communication, provision of extension services, and government-backed growth initiatives effective.

Mr. Gupta noted that the Indian Dairy Industry has also benefitted immensely from the activities of the main industry association – the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) of India. This is a model CODARAN is working to replicate in the Nigerian Dairy Industry.

From the CBN’s perspective, Mrs. Amina Habib observed that Nigeria has made interventions in the macro, median and micro levels of policy formulation and implementation. Investment in research institutions, the creation of policy frameworks for agricultural activities, and single-digit interest loans to farmers are some of such interventions.

The third-panel discussion followed thereafter, focusing on available opportunities for profitable investments in the dairy sector through strategic partnerships. On the panel were: Alhaji Muhammadu D. Abubakar, President of the CODARAN and Managing Director of L&Z Integrated Farms Nigeria, Mr. Laoye Jaiyeola, Director General, Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG). Others were Dr. Manzo Maigari Director-General, Nigerian Agribusiness Group, and Dr. R.S Khanna, Chairman, Kwality Group, India. Fisayo Kayode, Livestock Coordinator, ALDDN, moderated the session.

The panelists drew extensively from their reservoirs of knowledge and experience to advise potential investors on how to strategically position for profitable engagements in the industry. They identified profitable opportunities in ranching, crossbreeding for high yield through Artificial Insemination (AI), feed and fodder production, animal disease control, extension services, milk collection, aggregation, bulking, and processing, among others.

Furthermore, they proposed partnerships through think-tanks like the NESG and advocacy through industry associations like CODARAN to create platforms for dialogue, engagement with policymakers, knowledge, and experience-sharing to confront industry-wide challenges.

The Dairy Conference had three masterclasses, namely: Making Dairy Business Profitable, Commercial Feed and Fodder Production as a Source of Income and Dairy Health Management. Facilitating the sessions were: Alex Gitonga, Senior Partner and Value Chain Consultant at Tanolope Consultancy,  Kenya, Dr. Tunde Amole, Country Representative, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Nigeria and Dr. Chris Van Dijk, Chief Executive Officer of South Africa’s Milk Producers Organisation, respectively. Participants benefitted from the knowledge shared by these experts.

Giving the closing remarks, Mr. Dianabasi Akpainyang, Executive Director at CODARAN charged participants to commit to implementing the key takeaways from the Conference which include farmers-oriented innovation, a business-friendly policy environment, and regular stakeholder engagement to catalyze the development of the Nigerian Dairy Industry.

 

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