The growing livestock farming sector is providing good returns on investment for investors and gaining greater share of voice for its proponents
With the growing economic hardship, which has contributed to the steady rise in unemployment rate and poor livelihood, a stint in the livestock business might just be the needed respite.
FORAYS FUELLED BY SURVIVAL AND PASSIONS
Tochukwu Ejemba (not real name) is a medical doctor whose foray into poultry farming was driven by the high returns on investment. For him, it provided another stream of income to ease the ever-increasing monetary demands from family and friends. “I had to come up with other streams of income to take care of my family and other people who depend on me,” Ejemba says. And adds: “I was a matter of making a headway in life.” That headway, he reveals was aided by his friend who was into the business and who encouraged him to take a punt at livestock farming. For this Ejemba is all smiles: ” It’s been a thing of joy ever since,” he gleefully enthused.
Conversely, Benjamin Akubuike had no such side business luxuries in his own foray into livestock farming. Straight on, it was a means of livelihood that was nonetheless driven by passion for animal husbandry. “I grew up seeing my father rearing different kinds of animal in at home and I toed that path unconsciously without really realising I was turning my passion into business,” he opens up. According to Akubuike, livestock farming had become “my major source of income to cater for my family.”
INROADS TO LIVESTOCK BUSINESS
Livestock farming, sometimes referred to as animal husbandry, is essentially about breeding animals for the purpose of consumption. It is a sector that has gained plenty of voice and patronage due to its profitability. Poultry farming, cattle rearing, fish farming , goat rearing, snail farming, sheep rearing, piggery, rabbit rearing, shrimp and crab farming all provide entry points into livestock sector in Nigeria.
With poultry products always in demand and chicken, turkey, quail, guinea fowl, production of eggs, feeds all providing options, poultry farming ticks all boxes in lucrativeness in this sector.
Cattle breeding, dairy farming, fertilizer production, leather production and of course, beef production provides limitless opportunities for a subsector that is nevertheless capital intensive.
Fish farming provides high growth and reproduction rate while snail farming requires little space as well as little capital for startup.
Why livestock business?
The sector’s steady growth has attracted investors over time. As Nigeria’s and indeed the global population growth shows no signs of slowing down, demand for food will continue to increase. This is sweet music to Akubuike: “The market is readily available. All you need is strategic planning for increased growth and greater returns.” Additionally, direct involvement in livestock sector is a sure guarantee of food on the table.
With Nigeria relying on imports to meet its increasing food and agricultural product needs, the opportunities in the sector cannot be overemphasised. According to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), Nigeria spends $5bn to import foods annually out of which $1.5bn goes to importation of milk and other dairy products, a pointer to the many profitable opportunities that in the livestock farming for many to cash in on.
Land is a key consideration but on different scales. While cattle rearing will need plenty of space, snail farming requires very little space in comparison. Capital or money in any business is key as it can decide the entry level point or the scale of the new venture. No mincing words, large scale means requires more money than small scale business. If it is a business venture, then business plans and the attendant range of business dynamics come into play. As a side business, this is not key at the onset. Discipline and commitment and belief are key traits to possess in ample numbers especially at the curves when the numbers are not adding up as fast as the expectations.
POINTS OF CAUTION FOR LIVESTOCK FARMERS
Despite the profitable outlook of livestock farming there are many points of caution to consider as you think about getting into this line of business.
If you decide to get started with your own livestock farming business, be prepared and have adequate capital for it. There are not a lot of programmes funded by government or local banks that can support your initiative. This means that you have to rely only on yourself. The capital is one of the main problems that a farmer faces now and will face in the future. Therefore, if you really want to have a livestock business, you have to find other sources of funding, such as loans or farm grants.
The most painful and complicated problem to deal with is livestock diseases. It is no secret that animals can catch some virus or diseases once in the while. Due to different circumstances, including climate, economic, and infrastructure conditions, these livestock diseases will not disappear in the near future. If your animals get sick, then it will cost a lot of money for you to get them treated. For this reason, you have to care for them and take them for proper vaccinations.
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Of course, you may believe that running a farming business is simple, but in the near future, the farming system will change and get more modern. To cope up with the government standards, you will have to get more training and learn more about modern animal production techniques and tools.
The market conditions should be researched well and studied thoroughly. The Nigerian animal product market is badly organised and this leads to the problem of having expired products or food poisoning. The result is clear – no profit. In the future, there should be product storage system developed and all Nigerian markets must use deep freezers and/or any other modern methods of meat, egg preservation.
The way you transport the meat or eggs is very important. Nowadays, due to a lack of access to the good roads from farms to markets, it is very hard to transfer products. In the future, it is planned to either develop the transport system or to make farmers have their farms closer to the markets. Animal nutrition
It is estimated that up to 80 per cent of livestock farming expenses are spent on animal nutrition and supplies. This means that if you want to make profit out of animal production, you have to consider that you need to invest a lot. The dry season also has a big impact on livestock farming business. In future the government plans to help farmers make a reasonable profit. The government advises farmers to minimise the cost of feeds and learn how to do self-feed production.