Nigeria wants to revive its dairy industry as part of a push to boost agriculture and diversify away from its reliance on oil. As David Pollard reports, any new investment in the struggling sector would be welcome.
Nigeria's a massive exporter of oil. But a massive importer of virtually everything else. Dairy processing's been drying up - leaving companies like L&Z struggling to beat back competition from cheaper products that come in from abroad. The government wants to invest in agriculture. It needs to diversify away from commodities, it says. It sorely needs to, says Muhammed Abubakar, L&Z's chief exec. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MUHAMMED DAMAKKA ABUBAKAR, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, L&Z INTEGRATED FARMS LIMITED, SAYING: "We have the capacity to produce enough to feed not only Nigeria but the entire West African sub-region. What is lacking is harnessing the milk at the right quantity, the right quality, and delivering to the processing plant at the right time." L&Z processes around 20,000 litres of milk per day. Serving mostly local Fulani cattle herders. Traditionally, they roam in search of pasture and water. Poor grass quality, lack of storage and cooling facilities can leave them with losses. So L&Z goes to them to test and collect milk. L&Z also processes yoghurt - there too, more support would be welcome. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MUHAMMED DAMAKKA ABUBAKAR, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, L&Z INTEGRATED FARMS LIMITED, SAYING: "We don't have any reason to encourage yoghurt importation into this country. It's sad and it's criminal for us to allow this to continue to happen." The problem's not just confined to Nigeria. Africa produced an estimated 17 million tonnes of milk products in 2014. With seven million of those were made from imports .... Numbers that leave a sour taste for a struggling dairy industry.