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Demand for farm animal products in Nigeria: An opportunity for Sahel Countries?

Nigeria is a major hub of animal product consumption in
West Africa. It is also one of the largest livestock-raising
countries in the region. Meeting the ever-increasing domestic
demand and access to these flourishing markets are major
economic stakes for Nigeria and for the neighbouring Sahel
countries that raise livestock.

By its population and capacity
for animal production, with
25% of livestock herds in the
sub-region, Nigeria is by far the leading
livestock producer in Central and
West Africa. The country’s cattle herds
are estimated at over 16 million head,
far ahead of Niger (8.7 million), Mali
(8.2 million) and Chad (7 million). The
share of Sahel countries is significant,
however, representing over 50% of total
cattle herds. Cattle raising in Nigeria
is largely supplemented by short-cycle
livestock operations, estimated at 33.8
million head of sheep and 175 million
poultry birds.
Between 85% and 90% of domestic
cattle herds are tended by 8 million
migratory shepherds and farmerherders,
the majority of whom are of
Peul ethnicity although other groups
are also herders (Shuwa Arabs, Koyam,
Kanuri, Kanembou, Touareg, etc.). It
is very difficult to assess import flows
of live animals from Niger, Chad or
Mali, as many animals are “naturalized”
when they cross the border, some
of which are fattened and finished on
their way to the final market outlets.
A large part of the livestock sold on
these markets come from the Sahel
countries. Cross-border movement
of herds during seasonal migration
also involves a significant number
of animals.
Demand for beef is largely driven
by the Federation of Nigeria, as Nigerians
make up 50% of beef consumers
in ECOWAS. Nigeria is experiencing
a historic demographic expansion and
a spectacular change in food habits.
With a population growth nearing 2.8%
per year, the country’s own domestic
production is far from being able to
meet demand. Nigeria is therefore
forced to import more than 25% of
the beef consumed, and is therefore
a major outlet for Sahel livestock, via
direct sales or the moving of herds for
commercial purposes.
At the federal level, livestock operations
contribute only about 5% of GDP, whereas agriculture as a whole
contributes 35% of GDP.

Nigerian Livestock Operations
Face Significant Obstacles to Development.

Livestock raising is an
important area of activity in Nigeria,
but it is subject to some major
constraints. Available pasture land is
receding quite significantly as cities
and farming expand. Access to animal
husbandry inputs seems insufficient
and technical support for animal health
inadequate. Cattle are raised essentially
in the Sudan-Sahel region of the
northern states, where agro-pastoral
activities generally involve seasonal
and cross-border migration so as to
take advantage of Sahel pastures in
the rainy season.

Rising Meat Consumption and Changing
Food Habits.
The strong rise in
demand for animal products is due not
only to the high rate of urbanisation
(60% of Nigerians are city dwellers),
but above all to consumers’ greater
purchasing power and the emergence of
a new middle class. Furthermore, this
trade giant accounts for nearly 60% of
international trade in the region.
At the same time, more and more
consumers want healthier meat from
regulated slaughterhouses. Some industrial
meat companies are now
segmenting the market, selling frozen
meat packaged in individual portions.
Fast-food restaurants suited to
this new type of consumer are also
developing rapidly. Some instances of
value chain integration are also being
seen as the sector evolves, with a few
companies processing meat in their
own slaughterhouses supplied by their
own networks of producers. Although
this last segment is growing, it still accounts
for less than 10% of the overall
meat product market.
Despite these emerging dynamics,
many people still do not have access to
Sahel beef, which is deemed to be too
expensive by less-well-off segments of
the population. Thus, in relation to the
total population, meat consumption
in Nigeria is still below the regional
average (2 kg per person and per year
in Nigeria, compared to 8 kg per person
per year in ECOWAS).

Jobs and Know-How Deployed
Throughout the Value Chain.
Many
specific professions, with real knowhow,
are mobilised throughout the
value chain, usually informally : stock
breeders, buyers, market intermediaries,
drovers, cross-border handlers,
truck hauliers, herders who fatten animals
for market in the vicinity of final
markets (e.g. Lagos), butchers, retailers,
rotisseurs. In Lagos, activities specialised
in recovering organs, bones and
hides have gradually become concentrated
in many neighbourhoods that
are close to slaughterhouses.

Significant Flows of Herds Move to
Market via Routes Covering over
1,000 km. Herds from the pastoral
zones of Chad, Niger and Mali follow
long routes to market, for the
most part driven on hoof (see map).
The selection of the animals and the
drovers’ skill reduce the risks of these
transfers, which are profitable for merchants
despite the distance. Two main
circuits feed into the end markets in
Nigeria. The East network brings cattle
from Chad and Cameroon to the
international market in Maiduguri. At
this trading hub, 55% of the livestock
is thought to come from Chad, and
20% from Niger (the route through
eastern Cameroon and Centrafique is
deemed to be dangerous and is relatively
little used ; it is therefore very
hard to assess figures for this route).
The West network collects livestock
from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and
Benin and brings them to the international
market in Kano.
A great many legal taxes and illicit
charges are levied on these routes, with
the latter constituting a significant loss
of income for the actors in the livestock
chain and for States. On some of the
routes from Chad, the sums skimmed
off may amount to as much as 63% of
the total costs for an animal brought
from central Chad and slaughtered
in Lagos.
Operators’ economic survival is
in part determined by their ability
to anticipate the exchange rate for
the Nigerian currency (naira) and
to ensure they can bring the money
back home once they have sold their
animals. Given the variable CFA
franc–naira exchange rate and the
rising demand, the price of livestock
often appears highly volatile. In constant
values, the price of livestock is
said to have risen by an estimated 78%
between 1997 and 2002.


Principal Livestock Trade Routes in Central and West Africa
These routes run in a north-to-south direction from the Sahel to coastal markets. Many converge massively towards Nigeria, at the heart of this continental sub-region (source : IRAM, 2009)

A Stock Farming Development Policy
Based on Intensification and
Imports.
To meet the growing need
for animal protein, the livestock
development policy pursued by the
federal government in this decade
combines several strategic priorities.
The policy aims to substantially increase
domestic meat production in
all categories by intensifying livestock
breeding operations and promoting
monogastric species. Another aim is to
make it easier to import animals from
the Sahel, primarily cattle, sheep and
goats. Thee government also wants to
develop imports of frozen meat and fish
from the European Union and Brazil
for low-income consumers. Increasing
production of other forms of animal
protein is also a target, and Nigeria is
already the leading egg producer in
the region, with 68% of total tonnage.

The Development of Nigerian Animal
Farming : A Fundamental Stake
for the Federation, its Breeders’ Organizations,
and the Neighbouring
Livestock-Raising Countries in the
Sahel
. Making more meat products
available rapidly, steps to bolster the
competitiveness of livestock operations,
encouragement of private investment
in this sector—Nigerian livestock policy
measures are strongly focused on
intensive livestock operations and on
imports from countries that have developed
a livestock industry. Both of
these policy options rely on the consumption
of large amounts of grains,
the availability and cost of which vary
considerably with the fluctuations in
production in the Sahel and around
the world.
One can also wonder whether this
livestock giant’s policies have sufficiently
addressed the issues of agropastoral
production and improving the
coexistence between livestock breeders
and farmers (several sometimes very
bloody conflicts broke out in 2009 and
2010 in the states of Bauchi, Nasarawa,
Benue, Plateau and Ebonyi). Directly
related to population growth, herd
movements in Nigeria and access to
fodder and watering spots are serious
problems. The issue is therefore, more
acutely than in other Sahel countries,
one of making nomadic herding less
risky.
Livestock raising in the Sahel region
plays a major role in Nigeria. The
complementary relationship between
livestock raising in the North and in
the South should be strengthened,
without selling short meat from the
Sahel. Prices should better account for
the range of risk factors, the number of
intermediaries and the fluctuation of
currency exchange rates. As the population
of cities and towns in the Sahel
grows, this meat will certainly become
more expensive, and therefore more
“selective” in relation to consumers’
purchasing power.
In the current decade, the Sahel
countries may not be able to meet the
Nigerian beef demand in entirety, but
can nonetheless play an important role
benefiting their respective economies.
Sahel beef production must do more to
satisfy quality requirements. The cattle
driven to market from the Sahel are
often rather lean, which means that
they must be fattened up at intermediate
sites located on both sides of the
border. To more systematically and
more rapidly fatten cattle for market,
the restrictions on access to feed must
be overcome. This means that livestock
breeders’ organizations must acquire
more political power in negotiations
with industrialists (who produce bran,
presscake, etc.). This also means that
techniques must be found to improve
the processing of agricultural by-products.
These are some of the challenges
facing breeders’ organizations as they
seek to improve their members’ livelihoods
and support the cattle-raising
sector.

The Institut de
Recherches et
d’Applications
des Methods de
Développement
(IRAM)
conducts
research on
pastoral
practices and
livestock value
chains. This
article is based
on the
information
contained in the
publication
Étude régionale
sur les contextes
de la
commercialisation
du bétail,
l’accès aux
marchés et les
défis
d’amélioration
des conditions de
vie des
communautés
pastorales
,
IRAM/LARES
for SNV (B.
Guibert, M.
Banzhaf, B. G.
Soulé, D. H.
Balami, G. Idé,
2009) and on the
experience
acquired during
the current work
to organise the
bovine
production chain
in Chad (PAFIB,
Ministry of
Livestock and
Animal
Resources,
funded by the
European
Union).
www.iram-fr.org

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