Nigeria currently spends about N1.89tn annually on the importation of food, the Federal Government said on Tuesday.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, said this in Abuja at the national dairy policy stakeholders’ engagement organised as part of measures to develop the dairy sector.
Nanono also said Nigeria was spending about N568.5bn on the importation of milk and dairy products annually.
He said, “About $5bn (N1.89tn at the official exchange rate of N379/$) worth of food is imported yearly into the country out of which milk and dairy products account for $1.2bn to $1.5bn.
“Hence, the annual dairy consumption is met by 60 per cent imports and 40 per cent local production.”
The minister noted that at present, the Nigerian dairy industry was largely subsistence and consisted of local milk production, importation, processing, marketing and consumption.
He explained that the consumption of aggregated and bulked milk was less than 20 per cent of the local potential.
Nanono said Nigeria’s milk production accounted for only 13 per cent of West African production and 0.01 per cent of global dairy output.
He said, “The gap between supply and demand for dairy products is widening as a result of increase in population and urbanisation.
“The per capita consumption of milk is eight litres per year representing very low consumption levels when compared with the global averages of 44 litres of milk.”
The minister said the long neglect of the livestock sector had put a lot of burden on the import bills of the country.
He noted that government was currently harnessing Nigeria’s potential in the dairy sector and addressing contemporary critical socioeconomic and national herd management issues.
The Special Adviser to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria on Development Finance, Mr Anthony Ifechukwu, said the bank was working to see the emergence of a private sector driven dairy sector in Nigeria.
“A dairy sector where we can save as much as $1.8bn that we spend in importing dairy and then the turn such into other investments that can improve our economy,” he stated.
The Deputy Director, Agro-allied and Gender Head at the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Achilam Fidel, said reports showed that Nigeria had a cattle stock of over 20 million cows.
He, however, noted that only 2.3 million were utilised for large scale dairy production, producing an average of 0.8 litre/cow/day.