The Nigerian dairy sub-sector that has been grossly underdeveloped owning to years of consistent importation of powdered milk and related products, to meet up for the estimated annual demand of 1.5billion litres, why? The local production only contributes 1% of the national milk requirement, what an enormous void to be filled! It is has been factually estimated that a Nigerian indigenous cattle (like the Bunaji ) can only give an average of 1.5litres per head/day as compared to the Dutch’s Holstien Fresian that can give upto 50litres of milk per head/day.
The Holstien Fresian owes its long history of being an excellent milk producer due to fervent genetical manipulation of its ancestors towards meeting the huge demand for milk in Europe and North-America at the time, now I’m asking myself this question, are we doing enough as a nation to try bridge the outrageous gap that exist between the demand for milk and the current local production especially now that we need to strengthen the value for Naira against the Dollar by discontinuing the excessive reliance on importation of powdered milk? Yes I know you are thinking why not import these Holstein mutants to boost our local production? The answer is simple! Although the Holstien Fresian is the best milk producer it is unfortunately not best adaptive for a tropical condition belt where Nigeria is sitting, therefore , the best option we arguably have is to gradually upgrade our local breeds with foreign breeds either via Artificial Insemination (A.I) or natural breeding process, a procedure that is common in a country like India, where their local breeds like the Red Sindhi, the Sahiwa l and Girs has been constantly upgraded with the European Brown Swiss and Holstien Fresian for an improved production consequentially making India ranking number one in dairy producer in the world (FAO STAT, 2009).
The good news is that the Federal Government Of Nigeria has realized the juicy opportunities that abounds in the Dairy business which can invariably reduce the current pressure on the Naira by drastically reducing the huge importation of powdered Milk, by going into a strategic partnership with top Milk producing companies in the country to develop the dairy business (Freisland Campina &; Arla foods)promises a good future for dairy business in Nigeria, and as a result, Milk Collection Centres (MCCs) are being built in strategic places in the country, an indication that if you milk your cow rightly, you can get a decent income by trading the milk in the MCCs.
Somtimes ago the richest man in Africa states his commitment to Agricultural development and lucidly highlighted the dairy business as one of the core areas to be exploited, Mr. Aliko Dangote stressed that his company will seek to raise 50,000 dairy animals to target close 500million litres of milk per day, what a huge investment! if this is realized, it will definitely spark up the dairy business environment if lots of milk is being produced on daily basis and it will without a doubt set the dairy business on a higher pedestal.
The vast enormous opportunities in the dairy value chain cannot be overemphasized, ranging from the dairy farm where the fresh milk is produced to a milk collection centre , owning an ideal transportation vessels to transport the milk under hygienic conditions at the optimum temperature that prevents rapid microbial multiplication, all through to the Dairy Plant where the milk can be further processed into desired dairy products ( all kinds of milk, Yoghurt, Cheese, e.t.c), also of worthy mention is the backward shift that involves a Dairy Feed plant where dairy ration feed are compounded with an intensive knowledge of the dairy animal requirements and of course the Supply Chain ;from the Sourcing, Procurement, and the Logistics in getting the Dairy feed ingredients to the Dairy feed plant for further processing, lots of juicy opportunities only if we can be positioned rightly and timely to suck from it.