Stakeholders raise concern over farmers low adoption of pasture technology 

Stakeholders at the Dairy Value Chain forum and Responsible Business Conduct Workshop have raised concern over Nigeria farmers low adoption of pasture technology in the production of milk in Nigeria, pointing out that this will enable farmers attain a better and sustainable environment for their animals and staff.

 The workshop organised in Abuja by Milk Value Chain Foundation and other partners had development partners, private companies, commercial farmers, pastoralists, and researchers participating to identify, discuss and proffer solutions to key issues affecting the sector.

The workshop also outlined key challenges for poor adoption of pasture technology and strategies for higher yields, looks at important environmental strategies deployed by Arla And Care in their operations, and how commercial farmers can adopt the same practice for an improved and better milk and livestock, production in Nigeria.

Speaking during the workshop, the Chief Executive Officer, Milk Value Chain Foundation, Dr. Ishaq Bello said stakeholders in the sector should adopt technology in how the product is being packaged, how adoptable is the process to the farmers, the educational background and level of the farmers, the resources in terms and context of finance and Land.

He said the training is being organised for farmers to create an interface between the development partners, private companies, commercial farmers, pastoralist and researcher amongst others to ensure a constant engagement and dialogue where key issues can be identified and proffered solutions will be made, implemented and ensure a sustainable production.

“We are engaged in a lot of technological activities for instance, the pastoral production which has been implemented since the past four years. We have farmers across so many co-operatives in Kaduna state and we are involved in a massive project called the Damau Household Milk project, where we have over 1000 household setting in one area and we are positive that the Damau Household Milk project will produce at least 10% of milk supply in Nigeria” he stated.

“The challenges faced by the Milk chain foundation is numerous but is majorly segregated to primarily the technology aspect, how the product is being packaged, how adoptable is the process to the farmers, the educational background and level of the farmers, the resources in terms and context of finance and Land.

Some of the development partners and other stakeholders urged that over-reliance on natural grazing areas which is fast diminishing as a result of climate change, urbanization and poisonous grazing area call for faster adoption and implementation of the new improved strategies for Nigeria diary farmers

The workshop availed farmers ideas on land tillage, which pasture system is better, and how to harvest such pastures and use them during the dry season. They were also better informed on how to tackle some of the challenges facing them at various production level

FG set to strengthen farmers knowledge on benefit of modern biotechnology

The federal government said it has become necessary to strengthen the knowledge of farmers, extension agents and religious leaders on the benefit of modern biotechnology. 

Speaking at the ‘Community Empowerment through Agricultural Biotechnology: the Role of Council Chairmen, Clerics, Monarchs, Extension Agents and Farmers’ in Abuja, the Director- General/CEO of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha said these categories of stakeholders have key roles to play in creating awareness and promoting useful and beneficial technologies especially modern biotechnology at the grassroots level.

He said African leaders have shown interest in adopting modern agricultural biotechnology because of its potential to address hunger and unemployment.

“Our agricultural environment is deteriorating. Seed varieties perform low and are obsolete and do not correspond to the new climatic factors. There is high pressure of insect pests and diseases. Soil fertility is low and there is lack of capital funding for investments. Therefore, adaptation to changing climatic conditions makes it imperative to explore adaptable strategies and emerging technology tools like modern biotechnology aimed at tackling these challenges to produce more food for the masses,” the DG said.

Represented Dr Rose Gidado, a director in the agency and the country coordinator Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), he stressed that the modern biotechnology practice, will provide safer, cheaper, better quality, less waste, less energy, more environmentally friendly and more sustainable products in the country.

President All Framers Association of Nigeria, Arc  Kabir  Ibrahim told the gathering that the  farmers  in  Nigeria  have  embraced  Biotechnology  as  a  game-changer to take them out of poverty, to take them to prosperity and enable them to bring about the much-desired food security to  Nigeria  as  well  as investments to the country.

“I can testify to the efficacy of the PBR cowpea because I have planted it and sprayed insecticide only twice instead of 8-10 times.   The yield is also quite remarkable.

“The fear of GM as expressed by the Anti GMO activists is not supported by good  science  as  I  have  personally  attended international meetings and held several discussions all over the world to come to the conclusion that GM crops do not cause any disease especially as they are certified by the Biosafety Agency of Nigeria before being released.  

“I implore our farmers, monarchs, Islamic Clerics and extension workers  to  champion  the  advocacy  to  embrace  biotechnology which ennobles the commercialization of GM crops as this will be the  game-changer  in  our  quest  for  the  attainment  of  food sufficiency and exit from poverty as a nation,” the farmer said.

Director National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI) Badeggi Niger state, Dr. Muhammed Ishaq

Who allays the fear of GMOs said they “are designed to be extra — extra healthy, extra fast-growing, and extra resistant to weather or pests, aimed at tackling the adverse effect of climate.”

“Many GMO crops have been altered to be less vulnerable to insects and other pests. For example, Bt-Cowpea is a GMO crop that has a gene added from Bacillus thuringiensis, a naturally occurring soil bacterium. This gene causes the cowpea to produce a protein that kills maruca vitrata (pod borer), a very devastating insect pest, helping to protect the cowpea from damage.

“Instead of having to be spray 8 rounds of insecticide while preventing maruca you now spray 2 times just to take care of other insect pests and saving money in the process. 

“Because they can save on resources, food producers can also charge lower prices for GMO foods. In some cases, the costs of foods like corn, beets, and soybeans may be cut by 15% to 30%” he emphasized.

FG declares 28th June National Pasture Planting Day

The Federal Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has declared 28th June, an annual National Pasture Planting Day.

Declaring the day Paiko Kore, Gwagwalada Area Council in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) during the flag off of the federal government’s national pasture planting programme, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Muhammad Mahmood Abubakar, said this is to encourage private and public sector investments in commercial pasture production.

He said the programme was one of the continuous efforts in promoting intentional pasture development in Nigeria.

According to him, “I have endorsed the proposal that this flag-off day, 28th June, becomes an annual National Pasture Planting Day. I am glad that this Flag-off ceremony is holding at a time when Nigeria is having a renewed focus on the livestock sector, especially in pasture development as it plays an important role in providing an economic source of ruminant livestock feed, and improves productivity for food and human security.”

He said it is worth noting that more than 95 percent of Nigeria′s ruminant production is primarily managed under the traditional pastoral system characteristic of extensive system where naturally grown pastures are the main source of nutrition for the animals. “Therefore, herders and husbanders rely on mobility in search of feeds, water, and friendly grazing areas,” he said. 

“Thus, the production system limits both production and productivity per animal essentially due to lack of all-year-round availability of feeding and watering resources, thereby causing a drawback to the ability of the pastoralists to settle in a given place and produce.

“The result of this continuous movement in search of pasture has adversely affected the animals’ attainment of their optimal productivity and consistently impaired our national capacity for self-sufficiency in livestock products and animal protein needs, especially our national target of 1.6 billion liters of milk per annum. It has eluded our national peace-building efforts through the incessant conflict between pastoralists and crop farmers along their movement routes. These have also impaired improvement in the livelihood of the pastoral families in particular and neighboring crop farmers.”

Speaking further, the minister said, “Our current ranking by FAO is 15th in the world in cattle, 5th in sheep and 3rd in goat, and 17th in camel farming. The continuous extensive system of production is not a viable option since the land area for grazing and feed availability are severely limiting factors in the high livestock producing zones of Nigeria. It is therefore very necessary and top priority that all players in the industry focus on meeting the huge demand for pasture. This will give a great opportunity to unlock the potential of the Livestock industry and the development of its rich value chains.”

The event featured the distribution of pasture seeds and ceremonial pasture seeds planting.