AGRICULTURE has been described as a sector which can provide ample opportunities for the government to create jobs for the unemployed and revive the economy.
The Bank said the demand for livestock products is expected to increase in the years ahead, as the sector has the greatest capacity to create a multiplier effect.
This was made known by the Director General of the Nigeria Country Office of AfDB, Mr Lamin Barrow at the 10th Annual Joint Meeting of the Animal Science Association of Nigeria and Nigerian Institute of Animal Science, held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Mr Barrow said the livestock sector offers unprecedented opportunities to Nigeria’s economic recovery efforts.
“At present, the livestock sector employs around 30 per cent of the rural population but contributes less than 10 percent of agricultural GDP. This could increase considerably if investments are made to raise productivity and foster value addition.
“The demand for livestock products is expected to surge in the years ahead. With a population that is set to double in size from more than 200 million today to nearly 400 million by 2050, coupled with rapid urbanization, poultry, beef and milk consumption are projected to increase by 253 per cent, 117 per cent, and 577 per cent respectively.
“In the production sectors, livestock has the greatest capacity to create a multiplier effect and it is estimated that every additional dollar spent will generate, at the household level in sub-Saharan Africa, $2.9 in primary livestock production and $5.4 in livestock product processing”, he said.
He said the main players in livestock production are smallholders, small livestock operators, and entrepreneurs, while large commercial holdings are few but expanding, especially in the poultry sub-sector.
“Total annual production of milk, meat and eggs amount to 0.5 billion litres, 1.4 and 0.6 million tonnes, respectively. Livestock provide increased economic stability to rural households in thr form of cash buffers, as capital reserve, and create a hedge against inflation.
“Driven by high consumer demand, the livestock sub-sector has been growing at a rate of 12.7 per cent higher than agricultural growth rate of 6.8 per cent.
He said an example of what AfDB is doing as part of Feed Africa is the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) programme, launched in 2018 and currently being implemented in 27 African countries including Nigeria where TAAT supported commodities such as wheat, maize, rice and aquaculture technologies.
“Working closely with the private sector, initiatives such as TAAT will help increase Africa’s total food production by 120 million metric tons and benefit 12 million families within the next five years”, he added.
In his remarks, the President Nigerian Institute of Animal Science, Professor Baba Abubakar said the 5th NIAS Council was inaugurated by the Minister of Agriculture early this year soon after which the Council initiated some critical activities towards repositioning NIAS for increased effectiveness.
He said some of these activities include reviewing the activities of some critical organs such as the NIAS Consultancy Services Ltd., the Board of Fellows, and the Post Graduate School.
“We have also initiated a major step regarding the issue of the establishment of new Animal Husbandry Research Institutes and hopefully, this should gain some traction in the coming year.
“Additionally, the Council is expected to sign off on a very robust and detailed 5-Year Strategic Plan (2022-2026) by the end of this year. The Institute is currently working with the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on curricula in Animal Husbandry for skill acquisition by middle level workers which will lead to their certification for skilled labour across international boundaries”, he noted.
Professor Abubakar said the institute has also been recognised by NBTE as the Skill Sector Council for Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, which opens a wide range of opportunities for NIAS to develop and validate curricula in Animal Husbandry for industry attendants/assistants including their training.
“Over time and through the efforts of the Institute, several states have been establishing the Departments of Animal Husbandry Services which is a major achievement for our profession”, he added.
Meanwhile, no fewer than 25 graduates have been trained by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) on Sustainable Agricultural Development Training Scheme (SADTS) in Ondo state.
Speaking during the opening ceremony the Director General of NDE, Malam Abubakar Fikpo,said the five day training was a key component of the NDE’s Sustainable Agricultural Development Training Scheme under its rural employment promotion programme.
Fikpo said that the training was aimed at providing more food, creating employment, reducing poverty and enhancing the quality of life for farmers and the society in general.
He said the initiative aims at providing the much-needed stimulus to drive the expansion of agriculture-based economic development with an initial focus on developing agriculture in the state and the country.
Fikpo who was represented by the State Coordinator of NDE in state,, Mr. Dare Awokoya, disclosed that the federal government is poised to make agriculture a profitable business and an instrument for a long term economic growth and development.
According to him, the graduates will be trained on agricultural intervention policies and impact on employment generations, packaging and digital marketing of agricultural products.
He said they will also be taught on use of improved agronomical practices and other agricultural input, income generating activities, digital marketing, sources of loans and grants and fish financial institutions and I ther sources of fund.
He said the 25 beneficiaries had been selected for further training under the Post SADTS programme and said “ they will be trained for five days to acquire these unique modern technologies in agriculture and agricultural value chain
He said apart from training fresh graduates the training will also empower already trained youths with agricultural skill to become commercial farmers that would be linked qith financial institutions
He advised the participants to avail themselves of the rare opportunity by being serious and regular throughout the training period.