A Professor of Agricultural Biochemistry and Nutrition has advocated the use of alternative feed resources as an appropriate nutritional intervention strategy for herds of cattle and other animals especially during the dry season. He said this would contribute tremendously to the mitigation of the incessant ethnic clashes between farmers and herdsmen around Nigerian communities that claim several lives.
Professor Olusola Agbede stated this while delivering the 109th Inaugural lecture of the Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA titled “Alternative Feed Resources Key to Profitable Livestock Enterprise in Nigeria”. Professor Agbede said apart from a strategy to resolve the lingering farmers/herdsmen clashes, if adoptable biotechnologies are developed to improve the qualities of agro wastes, with a view to using them as alternative ingredients in finished feeds, animal production in the country can contribute to economic development and job creation.
Professor Agbede said Nigeria is blessed with many bio-resources which can be harnessed for use as alternative feed resources in animal nutrition in addition to the conventional feeds. He said alternative feed resources- may take the form of agro wastes such as poor quality cellulosic roughages from farm residues such as stubbles and cassava peels.
He also said agro industrial by products found in the processing of sugar, cereals citrus, fruits, and pallet oil mill effluent could be used in the place of conventional feeds like maize and soya bean so that man and animals will not compete for food given the spate of food insecurity in the country. Thus for profitable animal production, he said that it was necessary that most agro wastes are not allowed to rot away but should be used in feed formulations for animals by subjecting them to appropriate biotechnological processing to improve their nutritional qualities.
The lecturer pointed out that in Nigeria while the livestock population in most cases is higher than those in most African and western world countries, the primary and secondary products derived from these animals in terms of eggs, meat, milk and other products are largely lower than recorded for these countries.
According to him, this deficit is traced largely to the genetic and environmental factors of which adequate feed supply in terms of quantity and quality is a major limiting factor. He said the search by herdsmen for feeds for their animals on farmlands, which often leads to clashes between them and farmers , could be curtailed with the development and deployment of alternative feed resources coupled with the setting up of ranches.
To jumpstart the process, he said farmers, with support from government and extension experts, should undergo regular training in new findings and innovations to be adopted on their livestock farms. He also called for a deliberate policy that will lead to the transformation of livestock farmers and cattle herders from subsistence to agribusiness. He says Nigeria must begin to see agriculture as a business where appropriate agribusiness models for smallholder and commercial farmers must thrive.
Agbede recommended that since most farmers have limited resources to deploy high technology and biotechnology to production, they should be encouraged and sponsored by government and affiliated agencies to regularly visit the universities and research institutes when the need arises to bring nutritionally related challenges to the doors of nutritionists who are vast in animal nutritional studies with a view to introducing them to new findings and innovations.
The lecturer said sustainable agricultural production with resultant improved food security can be achieved if government adopts inclusive growth in its development efforts through participation of stake holders and environmental friendliness.In the case of production, he said technology that is indigenous to the environment and centered on improving the efficiency of small holders’ farmers vi-a-vis enhancement of sustainable production should be identified and developed to be impact oriented.
In his remarks the chairman of the occasion and Vice Chancellor, Professor Joseph Fuwape commended Professor Agbede on the delivery of the lecture. He described him as an astute administrator who has served in various capacities in the services of the University and an erudite scholar who has contributed to his area of specialization and provided mentorship for his protégés.