The Hon Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar has reiterated that the implementation of the National livestock transformation Plan( (NLTP) will close the dairy importation gaps and address other challenges to livestock development in Nigeria. 
The minister stated this at a virtual meeting today with Commissioners of Agriculture across the 36 states of the federation including the FCT and other stakeholders on the State Level Project Socialization on Livestock Productivity and Resilience Support Project (L-PRES).
The Minister, represented by the Director, Animal Husbandry Services Department in the Ministry, Mrs. Winnie Lai-Solarin, stated that the L-PRES program, “a project to support the actualization of the NLTP is targeted at addressing the age-long low investment profile in the sub-sector to improve livestock productivity, resilience, and commercialization of selected value chains, as well as strengthen the country’s capacity to respond to crisis or emergency”.
He  reaffirmed that the L-PRES project would facilitate the achievement of food security, reduce incessant conflict between farmers and herdsmen and cushion the effect of a COVID-19 Pandemic on the livestock industry in alignment with Government strategies and policies including, the Promotion of Climate smart livestock production and Productivity, Expansion of Rural economy for employment and income generation, Promotion of exports and reduction in the importation of livestock and livestock products, and Involvement empowerment of women, Youth, and Vulnerable people.
According to the Minister, “It is glaring with the current priorities in the World’s food supply systems, that the next issues of focus will be animal protein supply chains and its nexus with global welfare and security. Nations’ ability to provide good quality and affordable animal proteins has not only been linked with their pecuniary status, it has been confirmed to have direct relationship with human capital development and intellectual quotient”. 
“Although Nigeria Livestock subsector provides about 36.5% of the total protein intake of Nigerians, it also contributes about 8-10% of the Agricultural GDP and 5% of the National Gross Domestic Product and has been a key contributor to poverty reduction, especially in rural areas”, the minister stated. 
“We are yet to take full advantage of the regional markets under our influence and have in recent times spent huge amounts of forex on importation of products that can be produced effortlessly in the country. Importation of dairy products where we spend about US$1.3 Billion annually according to the CBN (2019) is a prominent example of the above narrative.”
The minister  therefore expressed optimism that  “the successful implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan will close importation gaps and address other challenges to livestock development in Nigeria”. 
Abubakar informed  that “ the  meeting is organized to provide updates on the project preparation and readiness; deepen state-level awareness and buy-in ahead of project negotiations, approval, and implementation arrangements for maximum impacts and value for investment”. 
Country Director of the World Bank, Dr. Shubham Chadhri, in his goodwill message, said that the programme is designed to realize the full potential in the livestock sector in Nigeria and urged state governments to key into it, adding  that implementing the programme across the nation would go a long way in the reduction of poverty, providing job opportunities, and grow the nation’s  GDP. 
He reaffirmed the World Bank’s commitment to partner with the Federal and State Governments for the realization of the L-PRES project in Nigeria.
Dr Chadhri commended President Muhammadu Buhari for promoting the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan(NLTP) as national priority and encouraged the state governments to embrace the program.
In her presentation on the update on L-PRES Project Preparation, Director, Animal Husbandry Services Department, Dr. Winnie Lai- Solarin, informed the State Commissioners and participants that the Federal government and the World Bank are ready to have the project take-off next year.
She appealed to the State Governments to facilitate the project implementation by increasing their budgetary allocation for livestock development, giving adequate state counterpart financing and providing office spaces, vehicles, and other basic facilities to demonstrate their commitment and readiness to implement the project in their states.
The director also disclosed that so far,  28 States and the FCT have expressed interest in the project, appealing to others to take advantage and identify with the project.
Juliet Okeh (Mrs)
For : Director, Information ( (FMARD)