The Lagos State Government has called on the private sector to partner with it to establish feedlots in the State for cattle rearing and fattening in furtherance of its reforms and sanitisation of the red meat value chain.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Abisola Olusanya, who made this known on Wednesday at a Stakeholders’ Engagement on the Red Meat Value Chain held at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa, Ikeja, explained that this partnership becomes necessary as it would ensure better production and supply of cattle for consumption in the State.
According to Olusanya, the feedlots when operational would help revive and resuscitate cows that might have travelled from far cities such as Sokoto, Jalingo, Bauchi and Jigawa among others, where they may have come to Lagos before slaughtering them.
The Commissioner disclosed that the feedlot system would also help in fattening the cows before taking them to the slaughter slabs, which would improve the quality of beef as well as help butchers and meat sellers to make more profit.
She said: “We have been having discussions around the transformation agenda centered on abattoirs, transportation and markets but there is a revised plan to have a more holistic approach to the red meat value chain.
“We are not just focusing on abattoirs alone, which are a processing angle, we are starting right from the animal identification and traceability systems, meaning right from the source or point of origination of the cattle.
“That is why we want to establish feedlots in the State so that we can have cattle fattening centres.
“When a lot of the cattle come in here and land at the animal market, they’re usually very weak; by the time they get to the slaughter, they have water and weight loss.
“Having feedlot centres means that the cattle can rest, they can be fattened so that people can make more profit, and you have even more wholesome beef on your table.
“We will like to deliver and achieve all of these things this year if possible, so you can start off with a pilot project.
“So we want relevant private sector to partner with us to establish the feedlots.
“The state government is already working towards ensuring that the setup of feedlots happens this year.
“So we are actually taking off in March for the establishments of the feedlots but everything is going to be private sector drive as government is only going to create the necessary enabling environment.
“So establishing the feedlot system is critical not just for the fattening alone, but for the purpose of rearing the cattle themselves. We have land in Lagos that can be used for this and that is what Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu wants in the State.”
The Commissioner stressed the need for more abattoirs in the State so as to cater for the needs of the over 22 million people in the State thus the need for public private partnership investments in the sector.
She explained that the reason why there are illegal slaughter slabs springing up within the State is because there are not enough abattoirs to take care of slaughtering the cattle.
Olusanya stated that the transportation of meat carcasses using only the designated Eko refrigerated meat vans as well as marketing of beef in standardised meat shops where there would be no avenue for consumers to touch the meat before buying would henceforth be strictly enforced going forward.
The Commissioner further noted that the Stakeholders’ Engagement was a strategic approach to meet with key players in the red meat value chain to be able to discuss ways to develop and sustain the sector as well as listen to their grievances and challenges.
Olusanya said: “The idea around the red meat value chain stakeholders’ engagement is to have a sort of conclusion around how the sector should move forward and we will be working with the Butchers Association Lagos State Chapter, which has a membership of over 30,000 butchers.
“We have the concessionaires’ forum as well; we have the medical doctors and the veterinary doctors who are in charge of animal inspections and clinical activities.
“When you have this team together, including those in the logistics business as well, then we have an entire chain.
“The idea is what can we do to track the way forward for this sector and these are the stakeholders that have critical parts to play in all of these. Without them, none of this will succeed; at the same time, without the government, they won’t be able to sustain this business for long.
“We have so many other channels for red meat coming up nowadays, you have meat sharing, online platforms, we need to address all of these issues, but we can’t do it without engaging the stakeholders hence the need for the forum today.
“Lagos consumes well over 1.8 million herds of cattle and over 1.4 million herds of sheep and goats respectively on an annual basis. Lagos is consuming well over 50 per cent of what Nigeria produces in terms of red meat.”
Earlier, the Chairman, Lagos State Butchers Association, Bamidele Kareem, commended the state government on its effort to upgrade the production of red meat and pledged the support of the association.
He said the association was ready to partner with the state government on the establishment of feedlots to boost food security in the red meat production, but urged government to address the challenges confronting meat production, which include poor economy, epileptic power supply and poor infrastructure among others
Kareem said: “We are ready to support the establishment of feedlots in the state.
“If we have the cows, sheep and goats at our disposal, we will not have to depend on a region or anybody for food.
“We will support government policy to improve the sector.
“We know that government is desirous that things should be better for the butcher and what the commissioner said is for our own goods, we know but the economy situation is not favourable to us now.”
A Concessionaire, who is also the Chairman, Pal Meat Slaughtering Mechanised Line at the state abattoir, Oko-Oba, Agege, Olawale Talabi, urged the government to implement existing laws as well as proscribe the use of slaughter slabs in the red meat production.
Talabi said there was the need for butchers to work together with concessionaires in order to standardise red meat processing and marketing in the state.