Livestock industry, hope for economic diversification, say animal scientists
President of the Animal Science Association of Nigeria (ASAN), Taiwo Adeoye, has said that the livestock industry remains important to government’s quest for economic diversification.
Speaking at a workshop organised by ASAN, in conjunction with Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS) in Lagos, Adeoye said the industry represents over 40 per cent of agricultural contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).
According to him, it has become important to highlight the significance of the industry because of the growing population and shrinking available arable land for commercial agriculture necessary for effective economic diversification.
Agriculture, he said, is the single industry that could help the unemployment situation in the country as well as the current economic hardship.
He cited that next to oil and gas is the untapped area of hide and skin that is used for leather. “The skin of Sokoto red goat makes one of the best leather in the world and that of a matured one can be used to produce 15 ladies shoes.“If this area were developed by way of leather export, it would be a source of income generation for us,” he added. He, however, noted that safety and security of the country’s meat industry has raised health concerns in the changing world. Adeoye described the industry in Nigeria as far from undesirable and below minimum global practices mainly because it lacks monitoring and control by professional.
The ASAN president added that poor handling of meat at our abattoirs around the country is an attestation to the lack of adherence to minimum operating procedures and standards ‘The safety of meat and meat products from abattoirs en – route markets or stores without compliance to safety guidelines are clear food safety threats to the unsuspecting consumers,” he said.
Meat is no doubt the most valuable livestock product that serves as first choice of animal protein for many, Adeoye said, but food safety concerns have received global attention and have been characterised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a major security issue. He explained that food safety in the industry is essential to trade and should be tackled at the production level, otherwise the entire product risk losing commercial value.
Addressing the workshop’s theme, “Meat Quality and Safety in Nigeria, Past, Present and Future,” the President of NIAS, Prof. Israel Adu, drew attention to abattoir management and meat processing in the country. Adu expressed concern over the lack of standard in the nation’s livestock industry. But for a country looking forward to export meat as means of diversification through the agriculture sector, “we must ensure the practice of standards.”