Mr Oseloka Obaze, a policy expert, in Awka has called on the Federal Government to consider the nation’s participation in $75 billion global hides and skin market.
He made the call at the 2018 lecture series of the Department of Economics, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka.
Obaze, who is the Managing Director of Selonnes Consults, decried the high consumption of hides and skin against its exportation for national economic gains.
In his lecture, entitled “Political Economy of Cattle Colony in Nigeria”, he said the country’s leadership had not done enough to harness the potential benefit of cattle-rearing.
He observed that the country stood to gain huge volume of foreign exchange in the global hide/skin market which had an annual worth of about 75 billion dollars.
He described the grazing system currently practised in Nigeria as antiquated and called for adoption of modern animal husbandry for harnessing of the sub-sector for national development.
“There are immense benefits from Nigeria’s cattle economy that are not being tapped or even discussed.
“Reforming the cattle industry will confer economic advantages and cattle grazing, which is antiquated, should be dispensed with.
“Resorting to globally accepted ranching methods as opposed to colonies will offer added value and greater dividend.
“Nigeria spends more than $200 million on milk import every year and cumulatively, about $1.3 billion annually importing dairy products.
“Nigerians also consume cow hide known locally as `ponmo’ and the nation is losing out on the global leather market that is valued at $75 billion annually, from its non-export of cow hides.
“The dairy industry valued at N345 billion, represents the second largest segment of the food and beverages industry in Nigeria, even as 95 percent of the dairy-producing herds belong to pastoralists,” he said.
Obaze expressed concerns about crisis associated with the activities of herdsmen and the security debate it had generated.
He said government should address the issue of weapon proliferation among pastoralists.
He said the proposed cattle colonies would have come with immense benefits but blamed the resistance it was facing on lack of mutual trust and perceived danger to security.
“Coincidentally, the controversial cattle colony policy has arisen at a time when there is a broad national campaign for policies that will boost agricultural production.
“The salutary value of the ‘cattle colony’ economy is at risk of being totally obliterated by the on-going crisis.
“It is assumed that the cattle industry and indeed ranching, if well-articulated and domiciled will be the exclusive preserve of pastoral Fulani herdsmen.
“In India where cattle are revered as near deities and therefore priceless, there are no cattle colonies, and human lives are not wasted or sacrificed in honour of or to protect cattle.
“It is perhaps, the knowledge and awareness of the wanton violence and killings associated recently with the cattle herdsmen that have triggered the prevailing fears.
“Cattle colony policy has created national dissonance and the sources of such dissonance should be obvious; first, cattle rearing is predominantly a private business,” he said.
Obaze also blamed the increased migration of herdsmen on climate change and drying up of the Chad Basin and called for efforts to afforest the northern part of the country to save the environment.
Dr Uju Ezenekwe, Head, Department of Economics, said the lecture which was fourth in its series, was tailored to address contemporary national issues.
Ezenekwe expressed confidence that the content of the lecture would help in providing solutions to the nation’s political and economic questions.
The event was chaired by Prof. Bernard Odoh, Secretary to Ebonyi State Government.
Amaka E. Nliam