STAKEHOLDERS from across Nigeria have concluded work on the Breeding Policy as part of efforts to actualise the National Livestock Transformation Initiative (NLTP) recently launched by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The stakeholders spoke with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews at the end of a two-day Multi-Stakeholders’ Forum in Abuja on Wednesday.
The event, organised by Department of Animal Husbandry Services of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, on Validation of Draft National Animal Breeding Policy Document and Preparation of National Strategy and Action Plan (NSAP) for Animal Genetic Resources.
The stakeholders said the policy document when approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC), would help regulate and coordinate livestock production in the country.
The stakeholders, who also reviewed the NSAP, noted that the draft would help with characterization and conservation of indigenous animal genetics.
Dr Popoola Mustapha, Head, Secretariat of Animal Genetics Resources, National Advisory Committee, said work on the breeding policy would be concluded before the end of 2019 and transmitted to the Ministry of Agriculture for onward submission to FEC for approval.
He said, “for the breeding policy, it has been validated and the strategy of action plan is undergoing a second review.
“We have one review left before validating and the moment that is done the ministry can take it before the Federal Executive Council.
“We have been on this national assignment of getting a national animal breeding policy for the country and what does that mean?
“It means that now we want to have the framework within which the breeding activities for all the livestock in the country will be carried out.
“It is going to put a stop to indiscriminate breeding and at the same time the genetic pollution and dilution that we have in the country, we want to put a stop to it.
“There is a lot of nomadic dilution. So, as at today we do not even know the whole breed of animals and it is affecting the business, the industry, research and productivity.
“That is why when you look at our animals 10 or 15 years ago, the sizes of goat then were different from what we have today.
“A lot of of hybrid figure is been lost and not to talk about when we started importing the semen of different genetics from other countries to Nigeria,” he said.
Popoola, who was a resource person at the forum, said the breeding policy would assist in identifying animals that could crossbreed for meat, milk or other purposes.
He said it was disturbing that, in spite of the huge potential in livestock, there was no data to clearly show the animal genetic resources in the country.
According to him, the Federal Government keeps losing huge amount of money to importation of semen for artificial insemination, which has remained unsuccessful.
He said, “what we do currently is that whenever we go to any part of the world, we just pick any genetics and we bring it to the country. Who told us about the genetic value, who told us about the survivability.
“That is why for years government has been spending billions of Naira importing semen for artificial insemination and hardly will you see a thousand cross breed from our indigenous breed. It then means it has not been a success story.
“So, if we have a framework and strategy to do this one clearly based on availability of scientific tools, it will help us to know what we are doing. It is going to help us on the long run to know what we are doing precisely.”
The resource person noted that “the two documents. The national strategy and action plan on animal genetics resources and the breeding policy must be the fundamental document that National Livestock Transformation Programme (NLTP) will leverage on when it comes to genetic improvement and the productivity enhancement of all these livestock.
“Without them, we will have a programme that might not have a clear destination or clear outcome.
” So, if we really want to do the needful, this is the way to go and that is what we are trying to do, to support the dream of government in transforming that sector.
“We agree that it is going to be a cash cow and it can be an earner of Forex but the needful has to be done.
“The technical aspect is what we are doing now and when we finish it will be submitted to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and sent to the Federal Executive Council.”
Mr Abdulrahim Yahaya, Head of Division of Animal Breeding and Conservation, Department of Animal Husbandry Services, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the breeding policy would help unlock the potential inherent in indigenous animals.
He said, “we are here to validate animal breeding policy as well as look critically at the National Strategy and Action Plan for Animal Genetic Resources.
“The animal breeding policy is supposed to give guidance or regulation to the animal resources in this country.
“The national strategy action plan is to tell us how we can characterise and make use of the genetic resources inherent in our animals for the benefit of the country.
“The policy has undergone several reviews. So we are validating now for submission to Federal Executive Council for approval to become a policy that can regulate the industry.”
Bolatito Adenike, a participant from the National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology, Ibadan, said conclusion of work on the two documents would propel domestication of global plan on livestock and become a major global player.
According to her, management of animal genetic resources actually requires that you conserve animal genetic resources that we have in the country.
“That you characterise, you document for inventory and you actually use that information for monitoring the status and trend and in that way animal is growing.
“Then the third one is sustainable use and development. Then the fourth one is capacity building.
“Researchers in the universities have been working on all these but there is no adequate funding because the global plan has not been domesticated but this is an action for the global plan to be domesticated so that it can receive adequate funding and coordination.
“We realise that a lot of work has been done on conservation and characterisation but they are not documented. They are all scattered in publications.”
Adenike said the animal policy was long overdue, adding that the plant component had gone far while the animal component was lagging.