Why shortage of beef may persist
• Lagos Consumes Over 8,000 Cows Daily
• Cost Of Animal In Nigeria, Highest In Africa -Kuku
The rising cost of beef, with over 25 per cent price increase in the last one-year, has forced many to seek alternatives.Despite the fact that a good number of Nigerians have cut down on beef intake, it is still beyond the reach of those who still have it as part of their menu.
Currently, an average size cow that sold for N45, 000 to N50, 000 in cattle markets this time last year, is now in the range of N75, 000 to N80, 000. Those in the region of N80, 000 are now between N110, 000 and N120, 000. The Guardian visits to a cattle market in Abule-Oko, Papalanto area of Ogun State, showed that cattle buyers now merge to buy, slaughter and share cows, due to high cost.
Just last year, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh raised alarm that the country might, in the near future, suffer scarcity of cow meat, which he attributed to the quantum of cows consumed daily without commensurate calving.
According to reports, about 1.3 million cows are slaughtered annually to provide for Nigeria’s population of about 170 million people. The cattle provide about 30 per cent of the country’s meat consumption and are therefore a critical and important part of assuring Nigeria’s food security.
The problem in the meat value-chain has been attributed to many factors, which include intensification of the Boko Haram crisis in the Northeast, forcing nomadic Fulani herdsmen to abandon their foraging grounds; climate change, causing desertification in the far north; and high cost of transportation, among other factors.
Although it cannot be ruled out that Nigeria’s cattle are a key part of its food security, events that have occurred over the last five years have strained the relationship between nomadic herdsmen and the communities along old grazing routes followed by herdsmen, another factor responsible for the development.
An expert, Mr. Kola Kuku, the Chief Executive Officer of Cattleman Feedlot Service, who confirmed the development, said since 2010, the price of cattle has been rising between 15 to 20 per cent, a situation that has led to importation of live animals from neighboring West African countries.
He linked the rising cost to population growth, correspondingly growing middle class; vacuum in the production system, which is not matching up with the rising demand; devaluation of the naira; high cost of transportation; and ravaging insurgency in the Northeast.
Kuku affirmed that the cost of animal in Nigeria is the highest in the West African sub region, highest in Africa, and one of the highest in the world. “An animal of $400 kilos, which costs perhaps, $300 to $400 in Australia or US, will be costing over a $1,000 in Nigeria, yet the quality is very low and poor.
“The crisis in the Northeast is a contributing factor to the high cost of meat. In the last three to four years, Borno, Adamawa, Yobe States and areas bordering Lake Chad that are livestock producing communities, contributing 20 to 25 per cent of Nigeria’s meat were ravaged by insurgent attacks. They are down and out. So, most of the herders have migrated to Cameroon, Chad or Central Africa Republic, which again affects price of cattle and inadvertently, price of beef.
“Since last year, when we witnessed the unfortunate incident of naira devaluation, as the prices of other commodities were going up, the price of cattle went up by 25 per cent. Transportation is another factor-in 2014 and 2015, transporting a truckload of cattle from Kano to Lagos costs N150, 000 to N170, 000, but currently, the least to transport cattle to Lagos will be about N350, 000. So, general inflation has affected the transporters and has affected herds of cattle.”
Kuku stressed that despite the high number of cattle consumed daily in the country, production is not matching up with the demand, a situation that has created a vacuum, noting that in Lagos alone, over 8,000 cattle are slaughtered daily to cater to needs of over 22 million people residing in the state.
This was corroborated by Ogbeh, who said Lagos alone consumes 6,000 cows a day, “that’s the figure at abattoirs, not figure from birthday parties and burial ceremonies and so on.
“Imagine what Port Harcourt consumes; or Umuahia, Abuja, Kano, Kaduna and Maiduguri. If you add it up, we may be eating up to 80,000 to 90,000 cows a day and we are not calving as many. Which means a day will come, if the West Africans don’t come into Nigeria with their cows, we may find out we have no cattle. So, that’s an economic danger that faces us.”
While tracing the origin of the problem, Kuku said the hitch was majorly caused by government’s lack of intervention in the livestock industry in the last 20 to 25 years. “There is no breeding programme, no herd improvement programme and no adequate budgetary allocation, and no strategic policies, the programmes are on papers. The breeding and multiplication centres, about 17 of them done in the 1950s have become derelict, due to lack of attention, whereas, we spend a lot of money on crops, fishery and others, at the expense of the livestock industry.
“When you look at the budgetary provision for the agric sector, only two per cent is voted for the livestock value chain. So, what do you expect from that? You can’t expect anything, it is a hard knock.”
The General Secretary, Commercial Dairy Ranchers Association of Nigeria (CODARAN), Engr. Abimbola Daniyan, attributed the development to herders’ inability to get “free food” any longer, as a result of the ban placed on grazing in some parts of the country.
“The herders are capitalising on inability to get free food, which is resulting into the killing of people. If you keep cattle on the farm, you need to provide them food, infrastructure, borehole and others, which will add to the production cost, in anticipation, this results into high cost of the product. Inability to get free food through grazing is cause of high price charge for kilogramme of meat now.”
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