The Nigerian dairy sector is a vital component of the Country’s agricultural industry and the products of its operators are crucial to provision of good nutrition and food security to Nigerians. Apart from the nutritional value dairy products present, the sector offers a variety of opportunities for employment and wealth creation across its multi-dimensional value chain. Therefore, in Nigeria’s quest for food security and economic transformation, commensurate attention must be paid to the development of the dairy sector in the new year 2021.
Despite its potential, the Nigerian dairy sector significantly underperforms, leading to the huge dependence on importation of dairy products to meet increasing local demand. With a comparatively impressive cattle population of over 20 million, harnessing local milk for consumption and processing is inadequate compared to some high-flying African countries like Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa.
Year 2021 – A New Opportunity
After a mostly agonizing Year 2020 on several fronts, the new year presents an opportunity for stakeholders in the dairy industry to turn the page. With an estimated 1.3bn US Dollars spent on milk importation annually according to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the need to develop the dairy sector to achieve optimal productivity, collection and self-sufficiency becomes urgent and critical. It therefore behoves relevant stakeholders in the sector to rise to the challenge of creating and implementing sustainable development plans to catalyze growth in 2021.
One sure way of achieving sustainable development in the sector is collaboration; that is the act of working together, sharing relevant information, supporting, and helping one another achieve success with an overriding ambition to achieve collective success.
Nonetheless, several meetings, conferences and stakeholder engagements have been held in the past years to engender cooperation in various sectors of the Nigerian economy. But the urgency of the situation at hand demands a new strategy; one that focuses more on results and sustainability than just exchange of ideas. When collaboration is done right, the benefits could be astronomical and such should be craved and pursued by all involved in dairy operations – farmers, aggregators, processors, marketers and distributors, extension agents, regulators and policy makers, interest groups, industry associations, research, and educational institutions. Collaborating in 2021 will help the industry achieve the following:
Problem-Solving: with myriad of problems bedeviling every aspect of the dairy value chain, new thinking is required to provide sustainable solutions. From lack of finance to low access to land, insecurity, dilapidated infrastructure, outdated and non-technology-based farming practices and an unfavorable business environment; stakeholders need to synergize, discuss, adopt, and collaboratively implement new initiatives to transform the sector into a high-performing one. The knowledge and experiences of the various stakeholders would be key in conceiving and pursuing unique solutions to these challenges.
Creating a Common Purpose: Without deliberate efforts to collaborate, the tendency for individualistic and opportunistic objectives to overwhelm the collective remains extremely high. But the more stakeholders converge to cast and pursue a common vision, the greater the chances of turning the tide. Stakeholders in the dairy industry need to unite under one common purpose this year and that is the transformation of the Nigerian dairy sector to achieve self-sufficiency and become a major contributor to the Nigerian economy.
Learning and Development: Another key benefit of collaboration is the opportunity it provides for people and groups to learn from one another. The more forums are made available in the sector where up-to-date information and best practices are shared, the better for operators in the industry. There is targeted research work going on in Nigeria and there are knowledge and ideas already adopted and implemented in other countries that Nigerian dairy farmers and processors can learn from to transform their businesses.
Networking: All over the world, people with common interests engage in building networks and tapping into them for business or career growth. The common adage “no man is an island” readily comes to mind here. It is at such networking forums that mind-blowing ideas are exchanged, course-correcting information revealed, and great business deals struck. Leveraging technology to networking globally will also provide a platform to learn from countries with developed dairy sectors. The time has come for dairy sector players to make networking a priority.
Reviewing Existing Policies and Monitoring Implementation: One common gap that is noticeable across all spectrums of Nigerian life is the disconnect that exists between the laws and policies of government and the knowledge and reality of the people on the streets. This holds true in business circles where many practitioners are sometimes not aware of government policies which are operational in their space and special interventions initiated to provide power to their wings. Collaboration provides an opportunity for stakeholders to periodically be brought up to speed with existing policies, where they can also offer firsthand feedback on benefits or otherwise of implementation.
Formulating New Policies: Recurrent feedback from stakeholders in the field would give policy makers a fair picture of the gaps that were not previously covered by policy or expose emerging gaps that would require policy interventions to bridge. Identifying such gaps and formulating new policies to eliminate them is one reason why practitioners, regulators and policymakers require frequent and targeted engagements to synergize for mutual benefits.
The Commercial Dairy Ranchers Association of Nigeria (CODARAN) is the umbrella association of dairy sector operators in Nigeria. The Association’s mission is to actively build networks of support for Nigerian dairy value chain operators, such that would that foster growth, development and the ultimate transformation of the dairy sector and the Nigerian economy.
CODARAN has committed to bringing private and public sector stakeholders together in several engagements in 2021 towards the development of the Nigerian dairy sector. It is a unique opportunity to collaborate and synergize, so everyone becomes the winner.
Dianabasi Akpainyang is the Executive Director of CODARAN and writes from Abuja. Comments and enquiries should be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org