The Federal Government says the implementation of the National livestock transformation Plan (NLTP), will close the dairy importation gaps and address other challenges to livestock development in Nigeria.

A statement by Juliet Okeh, an Information Officer, in the ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, said this at a virtual meeting on Tuesday, with Commissioners of Agriculture across the 36 states of the federation.

The meeting included the FCT and other stakeholders on the State Level Project Socialisation on Livestock Productivity and Resilience Support Project (L-PRES).

The minister, represented by Mrs. Winnie Lai-Solarin, the Director, Animal Husbandry Services Department in the Ministry, said that the L-PRES program was a project to support the actualization of the NLTP.

”The L-PRES programme is a project targeted at addressing the age-long low investment profile in the sub-sector to improve livestock productivity, resilience, and commercialization of selected value chains, as well as strengthen the country’s capacity to respond to crisis or emergency”.

He said that the L-PRES project would facilitate the achievement of food security, reduce incessant conflict between farmers and herdsmen and cushion the effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the livestock industry in alignment with Government strategies and policies.

“It is glaring with the current priorities in the World’s food supply systems, that the next issues of focus will be animal protein supply chains and its nexus with global welfare and security.

”Nations’ ability to provide good quality and affordable animal proteins has not only been linked with their pecuniary status but it has also been confirmed to have a direct relationship with human capital development and intellectual quotient.

“Although Nigeria Livestock subsector provides about 36.5 per cent of the total protein intake of Nigerians.

“It also contributes about 8-10 per cent of the Agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 5 per cent of the National Gross Domestic Product and has been a key contributor to poverty reduction, especially in rural areas.

“We are yet to take full advantage of the regional markets under our influence and have in recent times spent huge amounts of forex on importation of products that can be produced effortlessly in the country.

”Importation of dairy products where we spend about US$1.3 Billion annually according to the CBN (2019) is a prominent example of the above narrative.

”The successful implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan will close importation gaps and address other challenges to livestock development in Nigeria,” he said.

Country Director of the World Bank, Dr Shubham Chadhri, said that the programme was designed to realise the full potential in the livestock sector in Nigeria and urged state governments to key into it.

Chadhri said that implementing the programme across the nation would go a long way in the reduction of poverty, providing job opportunities, and growing the nation’s  GDP.

He reaffirmed the World Bank’s commitment to partner with the Federal and State Governments for the realisation of the L-PRES project in Nigeria.

Chadhri commended President Muhammadu Buhari for promoting the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) as national priority and encouraged the state governments to embrace the programme.

In her presentation on the update on L-PRES Project Preparation, Lai- Solarin, said that state commissioners and participants said that the federal government and the World Bank were ready to have the project take-off in 2022.

She appealed to the state governments to facilitate the project implementation by increasing their budgetary allocation for livestock development, giving adequate state counterpart financing and providing office spaces, vehicles, and other basic facilities.

She said these would demonstrate their commitment and readiness to implement the project in their states.

The director who disclosed that so far 28 states and the FCT had expressed interest in the project, appealed to others to take advantage and identify with the project. (NAN)