*VALUE OF TOTAL LIVE ANIMAL TRADE BETWEEN NORTH AND SOUTH IS N850-950 BILLION
*MOVEMENT OF LIVESTOCK CARCASS, VEGETABLES, DAIRY ETC IN REFRIGERATED CONTAINERS ALSO PLANNED
Two weeks after the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agriculture (NIRSAL) announced the commencement of its National Farm to Market Scheme to enable a low cost and efficient transport link between agricultural producers and consumers across the country, the North to South movement of cattle by rail formally commenced yesterday as the first fifteen (15) wagons of 500 cattle yesterday left Gusau, Zamfara State.
According to latest figures, the total value of the North East-Lagos cattle trade market alone is estimated at N324 billion per annum. This does not include the North-South East cattle trade or the trade in small ruminants (sheep and goats). Overall, NIRSAL estimates the total live animal trade between Northern and Southern Nigeria at about N850-N950 billion per annum.
The event was witnessed by the Governor of Zamfara, officials of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Central Bank as well as representatives of international development partners and international finance institutions. Also present were representatives of banks, other private sector players, livestock traders amongst others.
The historic journey is expected to last about two days with the final stop at Oko-Oba in Lagos.
Under the scheme, NIRSAL, in line with its mandate to de-risk and incentivize investment into verified impactful projects across the agricultural value chain, will provide bank guarantees for the financing of critical requirements involved in the movement of the cattle including logistics and equipment.
Connect Rail Services Ltd, a bulk freight and logistics service provider is the first technical partner on this aspect of the Farm to Market scheme.
NIRSAL is also making progress in its efforts to operationalize other elements of the Farm to Market scheme such as the movement of perishable agric produce like tomatoes, dairy products and vegetables in refrigerated containers.
The event signals the beginning of the Livestock Transportation Component of NIRSAL Farm to Market Scheme which aims to link Livestock breeders in the north to markets in the south in a safe, cost effective and profitable manner using the rail system.
In his comments at the event, the NIRSAL MD, Mr. Abdulhameed Aliyu described the event as a landmark in the history of the Nigerian agric sector and a practical demonstration of the current administration’s vision to take Nigeria beyond oil. The project is a culmination of two years of intensive work by NIRSAL and Connect Rail.
According to Abdulhameed: “What we have witnessed today is the culmination of this rigorous and consistent effort to demonstrate that agric in Nigeria can be innovative and business oriented. The transportation component launched today is only the first part.
Continuing, the NIRSAL MD said:
“The next phase of NIRSAL’s effort for the commercial development of the livestock value chain will include the creation of business models and specific financing products for the Ranching and Trading components of the value chain. The strategy is to mainstream all the actors into regular and sustainable relationships with structured finance and structured markets. This will include the transportation of carcass and cut beef in refrigerated containers”.
Also speaking at the event, the Managing Director, Connect Rail Services, Mr. Edeme Kelikume said ‘the potential of rail in boosting exchange between the north and the south is immense. As logistics providers we are excited at the magnitude of this scheme and the massive impact it is going to have on the economy’.
The scheme is projected to reduce the cost of transporting cattle from the north to the south by over 20 percent, minimize injury and death of cattle while in transit and also preserve 100% OF their value so that livestock breeders can get good price for their produce at the destination markets.
It will be recalled that over three weeks ago, as part of a test run of the historic initiative, cows were transported from Jebba to Lagos by rail within two days in a journey that takes several days by road. The arrival of the cattle in much better condition than herded cattle generated excitement in Oko-Oba, Lagos.
The MD NIRSAL, Mr Abdulhameed commended the vision and commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari, the leadership of Mr Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and the active support of Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).
The movement of cattle represents the first component of NIRSAL’s “Farm to Market” flagship programme designed to boost value and efficiencies across the agricultural value chain through a remunerative, sustainable and market-focused food production that achieves greater equity so that farmers and other agricultural producers get more reward for their efforts.
The ultimate plan, according to Mr Abdulhameed, is to enable the movement of meat in the form of carcasses in chilled containers as is done in the developed world.
Discussions with respected global names in refrigeration technology on the design of the refrigerated chilled containers are ongoing
NIRSAL’s mandate is to catalyze a national agricultural revolution by boosting food productivity and food security through the mechanism of de-risking the agricultural value chain in order to encourage investment by banks and the entire financial sector.
The focus of NIRSAL is on enabling a structured, sustainable and business oriented approach to agriculture that can stand the country in good stead in the emerging post oil Nigerian economy.
Bello Abdullahi Abba
Coordinator Research & Strategy