The Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has said that the livestock sector and its by-products offer substantial opportunities for agricultural development, poverty reduction, food security and improved human nutrition in Nigeria.

The governor disclosed this at a ceremony organised in Benin City by the Nigeria Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA), Edo State branch, as part of activities marking the 2023 Veterinary Week/Livestock Farmers Forum themed “Promoting Vision 2030; Making Edo Great Again (MEGA) in Livestock Production”.

Obaseki, who was represented at the event by the State Commissioner for Agricultural and Food Security, Hon. Stephen Idenhenre, also noted that livestock production contributes about 1.7 percent of the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“As we are probably aware, livestock production contributes about 1.7 percent to the National Gross Domestic Product GDP) and about 9 percent to the agriculture value addition,” Obaseki said.

“Recent estimates by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) indicate that Nigeria’s national herd comprises 18.4 million cattle, 43.4 million sheep, 76 million goats and 180 million poultry.

“For a diversifying economy like Nigeria in which agriculture is the rallying cry, the livestock sector and its by-products offer substantial opportunities for agricultural development, poverty reduction, food security and improved human nutrition,” he said.

The governor said the sector can also empower rural women and youths, as well as improve natural resource use and efficiency.

“It is in full recognition of this fact that the Edo State government, through the MAFS, is promoting agro-investment drive across commodity lines; restructuring of Edo State College of Agriculture; the distribution of essential livestock feeds, as well as programmes to boost livestock production through mass vaccination of cattle, sheep, goats and poultry,” he said.

He appreciated stakeholders in the livestock industry for the successes recorded in the livestock value chain, especially for believing and keying into the programmes of the present government in Edo State.

He also expressed his administration’s appreciation for their commitment to the MEGA agenda in the development of the livestock sector aimed at diversifying the state economy for inclusive growth.

According to the governor, Edo State has also keyed into the Heifer Model, plus the Livestock Productivity Resilience Support Project (LPRES) aimed at boosting livestock production in the state.

As part of measures to boost animal health and production in the state, he said that the state government has approved the construction of a modern Veterinary Hub where various livestock farmers could enjoy services such as diagnostic laboratory, x-ray, scanning, etc.

“This is in addition to the Primary Animal Health Vet Office within the metropolis where farmers access services for their various animals,” he noted.

He added that government has approved the allocation of a parcel of land for the building of the association’s secretariat to make it more effective in achieving its members’ set objectives.

In his remarks, the Edo State Chairman of NVMA, Dr. Chikwe Emmanuel, said that the Week/Livestock Farmers Forum was aimed at giving back to the people of Edo State on the best way to grow their livestock animals.

He said the event was a way of supporting the government using the livestock sector.