A LOT ON THE PLATE

Nigeria 2016 | AGRICULTURE | FOCUS: MEAT PRODUCTION

A demand for higher quality meat and to reduce the reliance on imports is creating a lot of potential in the domestic meat market for Nigerians, but they must overcome a number of barriers first.

Compared to similar-sized markets, Nigeria lags in terms of meat production. India counts around 283 million head of cattle, Brazil 207 million, and Nigeria just 19 million. With increasing disposable income, food consumption patterns are changing in Nigeria, with a growing preference for quality meat. Per capita food consumption forecasts for 2015 expected 7% growth, a rate that is forecast for the next five years.

As it stands, food-processing capacity is low, following decades of reliance on imports, but it is also one of the main areas of activity in the sector. State governments, especially Lagos State, are already making moves to facilitate public-private partnerships (PPPs) to serve the growing demand.

Akinwumi Adesina, a former Nigerian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development who now heads the African Development Bank, says Nigeria is currently consuming 360,000 tons of beef a year, a volume that is predicted to rise to 1.3 million tons by 2050.

Nigeria produces twice the amount of beef as its neighbors, but regional exports of meat have fallen to insignificant levels. In 1996, Nigeria exported 54,000kg of bovine meat to Ghana, while in 2012 this was down to just 3,550kg. There is limited collaboration across regional value chains, and the sector is hindered from expansion by weak and outdated meat trade policies.

Nigeria continues to ban imports from any country of all bovine animal meat and edible offal, as well as pork, sheep, and goat. The prevention of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is the standard rationale within the region; however, Nigeria also bans the import of live and dead poultry (with the exception of day-old chicks) and poultry meat, due to avian influenza (AI), which is inconsistent with international standards.

Challenges to increasing meat production are a combination of poor land tenure policies and low investment in education and research. The livestock sector lacks storage facilities and land for livestock farming. Many farmers do not have access to loans to help them increase their acreage, and the lack of storage facilities undermines attempts to accumulate stock for export.

A French-led study in Oyo State found that meat production could be increased simply through education, without investing in technologies, finding that education in animal husbandry alone could increase poultry production by 50.3%, pig production by 65.4%, and goat production by 30.1%. Financial incentives, especially from banks and insurance companies, to support the private sector to create support networks for agriculture, especially feeder road networks, is seen as key to unlocking this potential.

The government is making moves to answer these calls. In April 2015, then minister Dr. Akinwumi Adesina announced plans to develop agribusiness-training schemes. The IMF's country report in March praised the Development Finance Department of the CBN's commercial agriculture credit scheme (CACS) for extending credit of N239 billion since its inception. The maximum interest rate of this credit is 9% and the agricultural credit support scheme (ACSS) is extending credit of N876 million at 6% at the time of writing.

For years, local press has criticized the lack of hygiene and the environmental hazards caused by waste products. In April 2015, Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Gbolahan Lawal, announced that the state would be partnering with a private operator to address the effluents from the Oko-Oba abattoir. The goal is to convert waste products into biogas as well as fertilizer.

Likewise, the chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, Co-operatives and Rural Development, Olanrewaju Ibrahim Layode, announced early in 2015 that a bill would be put together to make the production and distribution of poorly processed meat an offense in Lagos State. He said the bill, when passed into law, would crack down on illegal abattoirs, and illustrates ongoing attempts to improve the industry's health standards.

The opportunities for PPPs are huge and varied. As the study in Oyo State found, husbandry education, transport, meat production, and processing may yield the best results. Diversification of waste-based products, a significant industry in more developed markets, also bode well for experienced companies. The meat industry in Nigeria awaits investment and expertise, but the demand to drive its growth is already in place.