Agriculturists advocate review of livestock policy to advance nutrition

Mrs Winnie Lai-Solarin, the Deputy Director, Federal Department of Animal Husbandry Services, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) has advocated agricultural policy review with special attention on the livestock sector.

Lai-Solarin made the appeal on Wednesday during the agricultural policy study and validation meeting in Abuja, under the auspices of African Development Bank  (AfDB).

She stressed the need to promote accountable, inclusive, equitable livestock policy and investments.

She said agricultural sector based review had become imperative, noting that the livestock sector though significant due to its large livestock numbers, was still under developed and under-performing to it potential in terms of contribution to Gross Domestic Products of the country.

She said it was therefore important to engage government and other stakeholders on investments and better policies.

“Livestock sector’s has the potential to contribute achieving many national development goals and it represents a unique opportunity for far-reaching transformation.’’

Lai-Solarin called for immediate attention to be focused on livestock sector because the rapid growth in production.

She described the sector as a fast-growing one globally due in part to changing diets and increase in disposable incomes.

She said the sector, therefore, needed to be supported through adequate policy for sustainable effects on the environment.

The Deputy Director commended the policy review and validating the report but however pointed at a big gap in the  livestock policy.

She stressed the need for more focus on policy concerning livestock and fishery away from crop agriculture.

Lai-Solarin stressed that fisheries sector occupied a very important place in the socio-economic development of the country.

According to her, the sectors have been recognised as a powerful income and employment generator as it stimulates growth of a number of subsidiary industries and is a source of cheap and nutritious food besides being a foreign exchange earner.

Lai-Solarin added that the sector had been identified as most important source of livelihood for a large section of economically backward population in the country.

She lamented that animal agriculture had been relegated to the background as little attention had been paid to the sector and this had encourage clashes in recent time.

She also advocated for a better education on improved breed of animals as proper adoption of modern animal breeding biotechnology would have great potential to improve livestock productivity and food security.

“Animal geneticists have identified elements within genes that can enhance animal growth, health, and ability to utilise nutrients.

“In view of the climate change effect, the genetic advances can increase production while reducing environmental impacts,’’ she said.

She said with the development in the rice production now in Nigeria there is need to embark on converting the by-product of livestock feeds.

She commended the African Development Bank for organising the programme, saying this would bring a rethink on the livestock sector.

Mr Victor Ajieroh, the Senior Programme Officer Nutrition, Nigeria Global Development, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, called for synergy on all agricultural policy to work and complement advancement of nutrition in agriculture sector.

Ajieroh said that as long as household spend 65 per cent of their earning on food it would be difficult to cut down the level of malnutrition in the country.

He challenged government to be so considerate on the issue of agriculture as it concerned nutrition.

He said this had become serious because hunger and malnutrition remained the most devastating problems facing the world’s poor.

He, therefore, called on government to put in place strategies and actions to improve nutrition need of citizens.

Ajieroh called for a link between value chain and enhancing  nutrition, adding that there must be diversification of agriculture produces and livestock to improve on nutrition.(NAN).