By Ozioruva Aliu
BENIN CITY – STAKEHOLDERS in the animal health and agricultural sector Tuesday in Benin City complained about the low level of contribution of livestock to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) despite their huge presence across Nigeria.
But the Federal Government has said it would soon roll out plans to scale up the contribution of livestock sub-sector to the country’s GDP.
The Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar made the disclosure in Benin City at the 57th annual congress of the Nigeria Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA).
Represented by Dr Maimuna Habib, the Minister noted that Veterinary doctors have a role to play in this as he decried the present 5 percent contribution of livestock sub-sector to the GDP.
He said “The sector is faced with limiting factors among which is the burden of diseases such as (Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP). Peste Des Petits Ruminant (PPR), Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), Avian Influenza, African Swine Fever) among others that are mitigating against livestock production and productivity.
“To realize sufficiency in the contribution of livestock sub – sector to Nigerian economy, we need to institutionalize effectively the control of major animal diseases in the country.
“The Federal Executive Council has graciously approved an intervention fund to address the existing gaps in the animal health care services delivery in the country. Very soon the Ministry is going to roll out activities in the control of trans-boundary diseases in the country.
In his welcome address, the NVMA President, Dr Ibrahim Shehu, challenged Veterinarians to deploy their professional skills to put an end to the importation of livestock and milk into the country.
Shehu who bemoaned the huge amount the nation spent in the importation of these produce, noted that thousands of Nigerians have been denied job opportunities as a result of these activities.
According to him, “It is paradoxical that despite the country’s tremendous potential in livestock, especially cattle, Nigeria still imports over 2 metric tonnes of milk worth over billions of dollars annually.”
He further said that of the 2 metric tons of fish required in Nigeria annually, over 1 metric tons is imported despite Nigeria’s large rivers, vast territorial ocean waters and diverse aqua cultural practices.
Meanwhile, Gov. Godwin Obaseki has promised to implement the resolutions that would be reached at the 57th annual congress of the NVMA.
The chairman of the occasion, Chief David Edebiri, called on the Federal and State Governments to pay special attention to the Veterinary doctors.
He also called on the professionals to make their presence felt in the society.