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My takeaways from working on the Nigeria National Livestock Transformation Plan and Implementation Framework

Dr Abdulkareem Lawal, Principal Consultant at Itad, has written a blog on his experience working on the Nigeria National Livestock Transformation Plan and Implementation Framework.

As part of our work on the Programme to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL) in Nigeria, I worked with the Office of the Vice President (OVP) to develop a Strategy Document for the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) 2019-2028, and an accompanying implementation plan. It was a tight turnaround, given that the request came through in November 2018 and the strategy had to be completed by mid-Jan 2019. Working alongside an existing EC/UN funded team our particular focus was on the co-creation of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for all the NLTP pillars.

The NLTP provides a framework and strategic direction to transform the Nigerian livestock sector and eliminate farmer-herder conflict by evolving and strengthening intensive livestock production systems, with the aim of making the sector more productive and sustainable.  The NLTP prioritises key areas of intervention into a comprehensive framework to modernize and transform the livestock sector into an important instrument for rapid economic growth and diversification in Nigeria. The various elements of the NLTP are arranged around five pillars – addressing conflicts, improving access to justice and peace, addressing the needs of affected populations, human capital development, as well as cross cutting issues of gender, youth, research and information and strategic communication. In order to provide clear guidance and direction for monitoring and evaluation, this IP has developed a high-level Results Framework (RF) to provide a structure and set of indicators that will enable the performance of the NLTP to be assessed and evaluated.

Livestock Cattle
Image Credit: Max Pixel

Apart from developing deeper insights into the workings of government at the highest levels, I had some important takeaways from the process.

Learning from previous failed attempts at ranching is important

There have been many attempts in the past to establish ranches in different areas of Nigeria, but these have been mostly characterized by failure and not sustained. Critical issues from these failures included a lack of land titles, limited use of specialized cattle breeds, the absence of reliable and quality animal feeds, various animal welfare issues and a general lack of skilled manpower in areas of range and farm management.

The NLTP considered these lessons and proposes ranching models that will be business orientated rather than public orientated in both ownership and management, supported and enhanced by a range of technical, socio-economic and security services.

Each of the ranching models is designed as an integrated business which makes provision for:

  • development of commercial crop production to support livestock through the supply of quality fodder and other feed materials,
  • the formation of producers into clusters to create viable ranch herd sizes
  • creation of cooperatives to facilitate improved access to inputs (particularly water), infrastructure, finance, markets, and support services.
  • the development of onsite or proximate processing services to minimize transport of live animals

Robust governance structures and institutional arrangements need to be in place

Implementing the NLTP will be complex. While it is anchored by the OVP, there are critical agencies like the Agriculture and Rural Development, Education Ministries involved, as well as participating States, including their respective MDAs. Because the NLTP is adopting a value chain approach to implementation, there are also non-state actors such as the private sector, civil society, traditional and religious institutions, academic and research institutions, as well as farmers’ and traders’ cooperatives; all of whom are critical for implementation. An essential component of the NLTP IP, therefore, is the establishment of a comprehensive programme management structure to take care of planning, coordination, implementation, monitoring and evaluation and financial management in an effective and efficient manner. This will be done by the Project Coordination Secretariat (PCS) in the Office of the Vice President, which will have overall programme oversight, overall policy guidance, strategic direction and review, and approval of the annual work plans and budgets.

Human capital development underpins overall transformation of the livestock sector

The ranching option proposed in the NLTP is a change from culturally based cattle rearing life into business-oriented agricultural production. This shift from a low-cost cattle production into a business environment will require significant upfront investments, a gradual process and a fairly long timeframe to be sustainable for farmers and their business partners. Many of the people directly involved in cattle rearing have low or no formal education, and business-based cattle production will have to be based on knowledge and competencies – this will require capacity building of herders and other stakeholders involved in ranching, business management and associated value chains.

The NLTP proposes human capacity development priorities focusing on entrepreneurial and technical innovations, as well as business development and management practices. These will draw on practical training and extension and outreach services, with a particular focus on young people. This will be on an on-going basis and will complement the vocational skills training for new entrants across two broad domains; the first will focus on areas such as livestock management, range management, and farm management including financial management, which are important for long term sustainability of the programme. The second will focus on capacity building along the whole value chain and include areas such as meat and milk production, processing and marketing.

Knowledge sharing is important to support change

A core objective of the NLTP is developing and deploying research-based knowledge and solutions that will drive the transition of smallholder producers, value chain actors, pastoralists and agro-pastoralists from near subsistence to productive small to medium scale enterprises for resilient livelihoods. The research component will cut across the whole of the livestock production value chain and will focus on key areas such as flexible and adaptive inputs, feeding and innovative production systems including health systems; as well as processing and market systems. A core focus of knowledge collation and sharing is that policy makers and communicators re-examine how information is generated and communicated in a way that educates the public with accurate and up-to-date information on the issues.

For example, different narratives exist in relation to cattle herding – there is the mindset that grass is a case of the ‘commons’; in other words, it is free and available to be grazed by cattle anywhere. This has two major implications. First, is the seeming non-economic value attached to the grass and the associated land systems. Second, is the herder-farmer crises that result from free grazing. There is a need to change mindsets to create a perception of value in grass/feed and associated land systems, which will be linked to ideas around paying for such grass. This will be underpinned by collating and sharing knowledge on several fronts


It is estimated that by the end of the third year of NLTP implementation, more than a third of a million jobs would have been created, with over 500 pastoralists linked to market-led value chains. The ranches will provide opportunities for the emergence of market-driven agro-pastoralists and linking to markets through quality improvement and standards. By the end of the plan period in 2028, it is expected that job growth will rise to more than two million. To be able to capture all of these, requires a robust monitoring and evaluation framework which is presented in the implementation plan. Routine monitoring of activities will help track results, challenges and lessons learned. Evaluation activities in the form of periodic assessments will provide insights on achievements made against the target outcomes in all the pillar activities. Evaluation will build on monitoring systems and will undertake deeper analysis on relevance, efficiency and effectiveness.

For further information or any questions, please contact Abdulkareem Lawal.