Nigeria consumes an average of 1.7 million metric tonnes of milk annually but only produces about 600,000 metric tonnes locally and in addition, it spends $1.5 billion to import the diary product, according to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). In 2019, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti state lamented that the country loses $14 billion yearly to farmers-herders clashes.
To conserve our foreign reserve and enthrone peaceful co-existence amongst our farmers and herders, the federal government has rolled out the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP). The pilot start-up, according to reports, was supposed to start in Nasarawa, Adamawa, Plateau and Gombe states. In Nasarawa state, the plan entails settling 30 households of pastoralists. Kaduna state is not part of the pilot programme but it is going beyond the scope of what the benefitting states are supposed to be doing.
The Damau Household Milk Farm which is located at Kubau local government, promises to be the gold standard of modern diary farming in Nigeria. According to the Managing Director of Kaduna Markets Development and Management Company, Malam Muhammad Hafiz Bayero, the ground breaking of the project was done in 2020. ‘’The ground breaking was the first of many steps in actualizing the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed in September, 2019. The groundbreaking allowed us to commence the provision of infrastructure on the site—that is the roads and bridges. The laterite road alone in the 8000 hectre farm is about 247km long, with two major bridges and many smaller crossings connecting the five districts in the farm. We have achieved about 60% progress in that regard and we will soon commence the construction of 200 homes, veterinary clinics, primary health care facilities, cattle pens, schools and markets in each of the five districts. There will also be a section for the production of pasture. This 8000 hectre farm is where the 1, 000 pastoralists will live and work while raising their children and rearing their cows majorly for milk production and other dairy products,’’ he said.
After signing the MoU in 2019 and ground breaking in January 2020, Kaduna State Government signed the Land Lease Agreement last month, which leases 200 hectres of land out of the 800, to Arla Global Dairy Products Limited, to build their own facility within the farm. According to Malam Hafiz, the global diary giant will move in its equipment to that area, that will enable it process the milk from the cows, and provide technical support like vet services, to the 1,000 sedentarised pastoralists. There will be a school to cater for the education needs of the pastoralists’ children. Besides, the government will provide each pastoralist with three Holstein-Friesan cows, which can produce three times more milk than 14 local breeds. Arla will buy the milk from the herders, process it and sell within and outside the country, he promised.
Speaking on the matter, Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s Special Adviser, Media and Communication, Mr Muyiwa Adekeye told Channel Television that Kaduna State Government is ‘’convinced that the only way to ensure that we resolve the farmers/herders clashes is to modernize livestock production, to let cattle and its byproducts such as milk and any other thing, be produced from settled locations.’’ According to him, Nigerians “have had enough talks about the root causes of farmers/herders clashes. Talk will not solve the problem, it is action that will solve it, it is investment that will solve it.’’ Adekeye pointed out that the Damau Household Milk Farm will solve the triple problems of security, poverty and enhanced dairy production.
Surely, Damau will provide the roadmap for the entire National Livestock Transformation Plan of the federal government.