By Perpetua Onuegbu
Prof. Ikenna Omeje, National Coordinator, Animal Breeders’ and Geneticists Network of Nigeria (ABGeN-ng) has commended the Federal Government for inaugurating the national action plan on genetic resources for the promotion of indigenous livestock.
Speaking in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja, Omeje said the action plan was timely and in line with global trend.
“This global plan of action is very important because other nations have adopted the plan of action.
“Nigeria has been dormant and not active and it is affecting the utilisation of our indigenous animals, indigenous fish and cattle, among others.
“The advantage of being part of the global plan of action is that it will make us to prioritise the value we place on what God has given to Nigerians in form of animals that we have domesticated, rearing and using as food.
“We have often forgotten that they need attention as we do to humans, clean ourselves, grow ourselves, our family, improve ourselves, improve our families and our intelligence.
“Our animals also need attention because these animals supply us all the resources we need, food in terms of protein, then raw materials, their hides, skin, eggs and their milk; without them man will not be able to survive.
According to him, the mumturu cattle are going into extinct because the rate at which we use them is not the same rate at which we reproduce them.
“So the same with some other animals, majority of these animals we use in this country for meat are imported,” he said.
He said that the cattle from the Fulanis are also imported from neighbouring countries, through trans-border crossing.
“Nigeria spends not less than 83 per cent of its hard earned foreign exchange on cattle alone followed by poultry, sheep and goats, pigs these are animals that are imported and their produce.
“We spend a lot of money every year when we have our own indigenous livestock that we have abandoned; other countries under the FAO charter are utilising their own and adding values to their native animals.
“Growing them and genetically improving their standards by selective breeding and other ways will go a long way to give us an advantage and reduce importation’’ he said.
Omeje, therefore, commended the National Biotechnology Development Agency for initiating the action plan, adding that it would put an end to the continued importation of livestock and semen of livestock into the country.
He said it was a right step that would encourage the genetic utilisation and industrial utilisation of indigenous breed.
Omeje, also a professor of Animal Breeding and Genetics, Delta State University, Asaba Campus, however, appealed to the government to ensure full implementation of the action plan.
He stressed the importance of livestock to the economic transformation of the country, adding that implementation of the action plan was one thing and sustenance was another.
The expert, therefore, urged the government to set up an inter-ministerial committee to ensure that the global plan of action was fully implemented and to ensure adequate funding to drive the global plan.
The Federal Government through the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) set up a National Advisory Committee to look into ways of improving local breed and control of animal genetic resources.
The committee was constituted in Abuja during a workshop on National Strategic Stakeholders Engagement on Animal Genetic Resources organised by the agency.