It also unveiled plans to review government’s policies with regards to the movement of cattle, sheep and goats, between Nigeria and neighboring countries.
The Agriculture Minister, Sabo Nanono, while speaking at the inauguration of the governing council of the Nigerian Veterinary Council, five years after the previous one was disbanded, said the ministry was taking steps to reintroduce the registrations to be able to track their movement across the country.
In a related development, Nanono said the potential of the agriculture sector remained untapped as several challenges such as lack of mechanisation, disorganised market and poor logistics had continued to prevail in the sector.
The minister, at the senior policy seminar of the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) held in Abuja, observed that there are between 90 million to 94 million hectares of arable land of which only 34 million hectares are used for cultivating crops, though sub-optimally.
He mentioned that foot and mouth disease is usually more endemic between the month of October, February and March, which is the time the livestocks move from the North to south. He charged the veterinarians to be more proactive in responding to disease.
“This is a very serious problem and I think we need to be more up doing to limit the damage of our livestock. More importantly we need to be more responsive in the response time during outbreak of diseases. It’s being extremely slow and I think we must correct that.”
Nanono further disclosed that the ministry was in the process of presenting funding request to Federal Executive Council to tackle pest and diseases across the country, saying as soon as they get approval they would immediately swing into action to contain these diseases.
He also tasked the governing board of the council to help tackle adulteration of veterinary products, which he said he was a victim, causing him to lose about 11 bulls within the space of 30 minutes.
“We are facing serious problem of adulteration of our product and that is why you must play serious role. Adulteration of some veterinary product has been destructive for us in this county. I have been a victim of such, adulteration where I lost 11bulls within 30minutes.”
He decried the poor growth in the Agriculture sector amidst the notable interventions from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) observing that the poor performance of the agricultural sector had rubbed off negatively on industries across the country.
This, according to him, was another reason over 145 textile mills had collapsed in Nigeria.
The minister, who noted the Nigeria agricultural sector in recent past attracted several influx of investment as well as the CBN intervention, said the country was yet to fully tap and make optimum use of its investments.
While noting that the country is still far from reaching its food security target as it currently needs 100 to 200 tractors per 100 square kilometers of land, he stressed that there is no way the sector could record substantial improvement without mechanisation.
He further said that developing the sector was critical to addressing the issues of unemployment and malnutrition in Nigeria as the sector holds the potential to create jobs through its various value chains.
Executive Director, AERC, Prof. Njuguna Ndung’u, who noted there is a dearth of quality data to properly inform policies on nutrition, called for combine forces to achieve the best nutrition outcomes.
“Global Panel of Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition point out, there is a dearth of quality data to properly inform policies on nutrition. This has tended to limit the effectiveness of agricultural policies in improving nutrition outcomes,” he said.