The government of Nigeria has signed a memorandum of understanding with local dairy company L&Z Integrated Dairy Farms in a bid to “develop” the local dairy sector by modernising practices employed by travelling Fulani herdsmen. 

The Nigerian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said it hoped to reduce Nigeria’s reliance on milk powder imports and tackle childhood malnutrition. Agriculture minister Chief Audu Ogbeh said high levels of dairy imports have negatively impacted the Nigerian economy and stressed 37% of the country’s children remain malnourished.

The Ministry also said it hoped the agreement would address clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria.  

“The conflict between herdsmen and farmers is very undesirable for a country that has 45m hectares of empty land; having to watch herdsmen wander around and getting into conflicts with crop farmers but because we have neglected this sector for too long we have the crisis with us and the best way to solve it is by retracing our steps and doing what L&Z has done and what they are willing to do,” Chief Ogbeh said. 

The MoU will facilitate the formation of herdsmen cooperatives, which, the Ministry claimed, will “add value” to their businesses and “enhance the collection of raw milk” for production. 

“The MoU will also enable the training of herdsmen on best practices in livestock production with quality service delivery for improved dairy production in Nigeria,” the government revealed. 

The MoU was signed at the Ministry’s headquarters in Abuja by Chief Ogbeh and Keith Richards, chairman of L&Z. 

Richards added: “Nigeria is no doubt feeling the negative impact of herders roaming around and realising that there is a lot of contribution they can make to the economy when this is stopped.”