In line with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) policy to discourage the importation of milk, four dairy products manufacturers have commenced the process for the local production of milk, an official has said.
The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, who announced in Abuja on Thursday, gave the names of the companies.
They are FrieslandCampina WAMCO, Neon Agro, Chi Limited and Irish Dairy. He said they have already expressed interest to invest in Bobi Grazing Reserve in Niger State.
Bobi Grazing Reserve located in Mariga Local Government Area is part of 26 Grazing Reserves gazette under a livestock development initiative by the Niger State government in partnership with the CBN.
The reserve has a land area of 31,000 hectares, with about 700 families and 300,000 heads of cattle resident there for the pilot project.
So far, the CBN governor said FrieslandCampina WAMCO and Neon Agro have agreed to acquire 10,000 hectares of land each, while Chi Limited and Irish Dairy are to develop 4,000 hectares each for their local milk production project.
The remaining 3,000 hectares will be retained by the state government for its development programmes.
Already, as at last Tuesday, September 18, Mr Emefiele said FrieslandCampina WAMCO had cleared a total land area of 695 hectares, with 190 hectares already cultivated with pastures for the livestock.
Also, the company has completed a hydroponic centre and solar-powered borehole, while equipment for its Milk Collection Centre is awaiting installation.
Similarly, he said Chi Limited has also signed contracts for the clearing and planting of pasture on its allocated 4,000 hectares of land.
He said Niger State government has cleared and fenced 63 hectares of land in two sites.
He said the site has a police post, administrative area and veterinary clinic, with a primary school refurbished, while a clinic is under construction. Also, planting of pasture is currently in progress.
Besides, in Kaduna State, the CBN governor said Arla Group has existing projects in Damau, Amana, NAPRI Shika and Kagarko.
About N12 billion has also been reportedly ivested in the development of 6,000 hectares of land in Damau Grazing Reserve under the Bank’s livestock development initiative.
In addition, he said Arla is currently refurbishing a milk processing plant and will soon commence milk off-take from 600 farmers in Kagarko.
Again, he said the Promasidor Group has commenced work on the 500 hectares land area granted consent to develop Ikun Dairy Farm Project in Ekiti State.
Apart from the deployment of 20 tractors for land preparations at the site, the company has also commenced the planting of pasture for the livestock.
For integrated Dairies Limited, an indigenous dairy company based in Jos, Plateau State, the company has engaged the Plateau State government and key interest groups on the development of Wase Grazing Reserve.
Nestle Plc has indicated interest in developing its dairy project in Abaji, in the Federal Capital Territory.
The CBN said it has contacted the relevant government departments to fast-track land acquisition and issuance of title documents.
“For these investments to bear fruits, the support of the state governments is needed through land, and other infrastructural amenities,” the CBN governor said.
End of an era?
Mr Emefiele said the CBN was determined to end the era when the country spent about $1.5 billion annually on the importation of dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese and other milk derivatives.
He said a situation where over 95 percent of milk products consumed in the country was imported was not healthy for the country’s economy, considering that the country’s dairy industry had huge potentials to create millions of jobs and foreign exchange savings.
The sector, he said, has an undeveloped meat processing infrastructure, declining tannery operations, inadequate large-scale private investments in cold storage and transportation, and insecurity arising mostly from pastoralists/farmers clashes, rustling, and other socio-economic challenges.
With over 85 percent of the country’s cattle, estimated at over 20 million, owned and managed by smallholders, he said the CBN has resolved to support subsistent and nomadic herdsmen who want to be integrated in the scheme.