The Department of Agric Biotechnology of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), in collaboration with Mississippi State University, U.S., plans to adopt modern technology to enhance livestock production in Nigeria.
Dr Popoola Mustapha, the Chairman, Animal Genetic Resources Research (AGR) of NABDA, disclosed this when he led a team of farmers, headsmen and agric stakeholders on a field trip to Salbari Farm in Kuje Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Friday, June 22, 2018.
Mustapha, who is also a reproductive biotechnologist, said that the process would be carried out through the application of Computer-Assisted Sperm Analyser (CASA).
This process, he said, would provide simple and rapid quantitative assessment of the quality of sperm and may predict the ability to fertilise eggs for quantity productions.
The chairman said that the country had in recent time lost some of its indigenous cattle to other regions in Africa through cross boundary movement to find feed which could result to the extinction of some of these species.
The biotechnologist explained that the only option was to adopt modern technology to revive the sector.
He said: “We have realised that due to trans-boundary movement of these animals to other regions to find feed, we as a country have lost some indigenous species.
“This is because from Nigeria to the Central Africa Republic, you will see pastoralists moving livestock and it has become difficult to identify some of the country’s species.
“In AGR, our interest is to look at the entire value chain of different livestock that we have in the country, those that we have been losing to movement across the border including the ones that had already vanished.
“As we speak, some of our indigenous cattle are found in the Lake Chad Basin region due to movement of animals without returning to the country.”
According to him, the introduction of the technology will go a long way to enhance the productivity of cattle and other animal species in the country.
He said NABDA as an agency had carefully observed that Nigeria was behind the global baseline in livestock production, adding that the situation could result to total extinction of some animals in the country.
Dr Jean Feugang, the Associate Research Professor, Animal Sciences, Mississippi State University, U.S., said Nigeria stood the chance of competing with other countries of the world with the adoption of biotechnology.
He said: “My mission to Nigeria as invited by NABDA is to see how we can collaborate to explore what the country has.
“We will also look at how we can implement some of the researches that I carried out in the U.S. to associate with what NABDA is doing in Nigeria to achieve what we want.
“We have strong collaboration to improve animal reproduction in the country because from what I have seen, there are a lot of challenges.
“We just want to know exactly where to start to have direct impact on the producers of the animals, find solutions to some of the animals that have gone on extinction
“I am very sure that with the things that I have seen in Nigeria, with the motivation that we have, and with the kind of farmers that we have, I am sure that the country’s productivity will be higher than what is on ground.”
Mr Yahaya Isah, the Chairman, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, FCT chapter, described the innovation as a good one and urged the country to work toward it as the initiative would enlighten local farmers the more.
According to Isah, the country is far behind the initiative, adding that developed countries have
already keyed into it and have achieved greater results in productivity.
He said: “It is a very good innovation, it is what we should be working toward, it is something that will improve the quality and quantity of livestock production in Nigeria because it is so modelled.
“Although it will involve a lot of planning, a lot of strategies, a lot of stages are there and more so the fact that our cattle breeders in Nigeria today are still leaving in the ancient system of breeding.
“The country still believes in the ancient kinds of cattle we breed, we believe in quantity, not in quality.
“I believe the transition with which we plan to change this perception, change this belief and change the orientation of cattle breeders is enormous.”
By Okon Okon and Perpetua Onuegbu