The Nigeria’s livestock industry is under threat, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the the United Nations has lamented.
The UN body also decried that a lack of livestock production has the potential to worsen the food insecurity situation and lead to a decline in income, resulting in widespread hunger, increased public health threats and continued dependency on food assistance.
Speaking at a training of the Stakeholders in Livestock Sector in the North East in Maiduguri on Monday, the Head of Office, FAO Northeast Nigeria, Mr. Al Hassan Cisse said: “Many of the people who depend on livestock rearing as a mainstay of their livelihoods are subject to an unprecedented range of challenges.
Climate-related shocks such as drought, erratic rainfall and floods, the volatility of local and global markets and armed conflict in areas like the northeast –which has taken a significant toll on animal ownership in that region – are just a few of the phenomena facing the country’s livestock owners.”
Cisse said: “An assessment by FAO in December 2016 highlighted the urgent need to support animal restocking and to launch vaccinations and treatment of livestock against highly contagious diseases following the damage to veterinary systems in the northeast.”
He said: “Increasing livestock production will be central to enabling the recovery of affected households in northeast Nigeria.
As part of a large-scale livestock campaign, FAO is targeting internally displaced women and men, residents of host communities and people who have recently returned to their original communities for livestock production support.”
He noted that: “FAO has recorded a number of achievements in its programme in the northeast. More than 60,000 households have been restocked with goats, bulls, rams and poultry from 2017.
About 420,000 animals have been vaccinated since the start of the programme. Cattle, sheep and goats were vaccinated and medicated against the contagious bovine pleuropneumonia, bovine brucellosis and peste de petis ruminants.
“These common livestock diseases often lead to greater animal mortality rates among vulnerable livestock-owning households. Treatment of parasitic such as worms, flukes and protozoa, and external parasites through de-worming were also done prior to distribution of all livestock. Working with local veterinary organizations, FAO also quarantined its distributed livestock.”
Cisse said in addition, more than 520 metric tonnes of locally procured livestock feed (wheat bran and cotton seed) has been supplied to 4,680 beneficiaries households, assisting them with critical lifelines to maintain the viability of their livestock and herds during the lean season, a period characterized by high feed prices and increased risk of animal losses.
He said the restocking activities have provided households with potential income-generating assets to cope in a crisis.
He disclosed that: “All beneficiaries of goat distributions are women headed households, while in other input categories; at least 30% of beneficiaries were female-headed households. Women were prioritised because of their relative difficulty in accessing land for crop production, and because goat rearing is culturally a woman activity in NE Nigeria.”
Cisse said livestock restocking has brought returns in the northeast, stating that: “FAO undertook an assessment utilizing existing market data, which demonstrated the financial benefits of restocking households.
Households were projected to benefit from about USD 462 each per production cycle, while the total cost of restocking is USD 344 per household, creating a cost benefit ratio of 1.56 or USD 118 per household.
He said: “In addition, our livestock restocking empowers both genders and benefits women. Women constitute the majority of goat and poultry recipients, while in other kinds of distributions such as bull, livestock feed, vaccinations and medication, at least 30% of beneficiaries were female-headed households.
“To further strengthen the livestock sector in the northeast, FAO will train and provide kit for 50 community based animal health care workers with tools to resume animal healthcare provision at the village level.
Animal Feed and health vouchers will be introduced to support households who will benefit from animal distributions. These activities will also support the return of input suppliers back to their communities in order to enhance the sustainability of our livestock interventions.”