The Federal Republic of Nigeria is in West Africa between Latitudes 4 o to 14o North and between Longitudes 2o2’ and 14 o 30’ East. To the north the country is bounded by the Niger Republic and Chad; in the west by the Benin Republic, in the East by the Cameroon Republic and to the south by the Atlantic Ocean. The country takes its name from its most prominent river, the Niger. Nigeria has a land area of about 923 769 km2 (FOS, 1989); a north-south length of about 1 450 km and a west-east breadth of about 800 km. Its total land boundary is 4 047 km while the coastline is 853 km. The Federal Ministry of Environment of Nigeria (FMEN, 2001) 1993 estimate of irrigated land is 9 570 km2 and arable land about 35 %; 15 % pasture; 10 % forest reserve; 10 % for settlements and the remaining 30 % considered uncultivable for one reason or the other. Boomie (1998) corroborated the irrigated land at 9 570 km2 with arable land at 33 %; permanent crops 3 %; permanent pastures 44 %; forests and woodland 12 % and others 8 %. Cleaver and Shreiber (1994) put the surface area of Nigeria as 91.07 million hectares, 57 % of which is believed to be either under crops or pastures while the remaining 43 % is divided amongst forest, water bodies and other uses.
Nigeria is a country of marked ecological diversity and climatic contrasts. The lowest point is the Atlantic Ocean at sea level while the highest point is the Chappal Waddi at 2 419 m. Nigeria has diverse biophysical characteristics, ethnic nationalities, agro-ecological zones and socio-economic conditions. It has evolved over time and space in terms of administrative structures and nature of governance. It started as an amalgamated British colony in 1914, became a federation in 1963; then became independent in 1960 as a two-unit region comprising the Northern and Southern provinces. An additional Mid-Western region was created in 1963. Also in 1963, Nigeria was proclaimed a republic.
The three former regions (Western, Eastern and Northern) excluding the Midwest were later divided into 12 states in 1967 along with a number of sub-administrative divisions for each state. In 1976 the states were increased to 19, in 1987 to 21 and 30 in 1987 (Figure 1). Further changes in the administrative composition of the country include the redefining of the political regions as local government areas (LGAs) and the creation of the new Abuja Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on December 12 1991. With this, Lagos ceased to be the country’s capital, a position that it held right from before independence. Thus today Abuja is the capital while Lagos is the largest city in terms of population and the main commercial centre. There are now 744 LGAs. The present 36 States structure emerged in 1996 during the time of erstwhile Babaginda, with the creation of 6 additional states namely Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Gombe, Nasarawa and Zamfara. Today Nigeria consists of 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory located at Abuja (Figure 1).
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with an estimated population of 131,859,731 inhabitants (July 2006 estimate, World Factbook). The average annual growth rate according to the 2006 estimate was 2.38 %. Nigeria’s population is divided among 478 different ethnic groups, some numbering fewer than 10 000 people. Of the different ethnic groups, ten (Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba, Ibo, Kanuri, Tiv, Edo, Nupe, Ibibio and Ijaw) account for nearly 80% of the population. Twenty-five percent of the population is in the former Western Region (12% of area), 21% in the former Eastern Region (9% of area), and 53% in the former Northern Region (79% of area). The lowest population densities are in the northern regions, especially in Borno, Adamawa, Kebbi, Kwara, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara States. Details of Nigeria’s population density are presented in Figure 2.
Nigeria's economy has been dominated since the late nineteen-sixties by the export of oil, a sector dominated by the Government. By the mid-nineteen-seventies, about 75% of Federal revenue came from petroleum. The share of exports accounted for by fuel, mineral and metals continued to rise and stood at 96% in 1991 (World Bank, 1993). In 2004, the share of export commodities from petroleum and petroleum products was 95 %, while cocoa, rubber and others contributed most of the remainder of exports. Nigeria’s industrial production growth rate was 2.3 % (2004 estimate) (CIA World Factbook, 2004). GDP growth rose marginally in 2004, led by oil and natural gas exports. The capital-intensive oil sector provides 20% of GDP, 95% of foreign exchange earnings, and about 65% of budgetary revenues (2004 estimate) (CIA World Factbook, 2004).
The development of the petroleum industry in the late nineteen-sixties and nineteen-seventies radically transformed Nigeria from an agricultural based economy to a major oil exporter. Increased earnings from petroleum exports generated high levels of real economic growth, and by the mid-nineteen-seventies Nigeria ranked as the dominant economy in sub-Saharan Africa and as the continent's major exporter of crude petroleum. Notwithstanding the decline in world petroleum prices after 1981, the government became increasingly over-extended financially, with insufficient revenue from petroleum to pay the rising cost of imports or to finance major development projects. The decline in Nigeria's earnings of foreign exchange led to an accumulation of arrears in trade debts and of import shortages, which, in turn, resulted in a sharp fall in economic activity, with most of Nigerian industry struggling to operate without essential imported raw materials and spare parts. A series of poor harvests, an overvalued currency and a widening budget deficit compounded the problem.
The dramatic fall in international prices for petroleum in 1986, and reduced output in all sectors (except agriculture), kept the economy in the depths of recession, thus in July 1986 the government announced a two-year structural adjustment program (SAP). This programme was aimed at expanding non-oil exports, reducing the import of goods that could be manufactured locally, achieving self-sufficiency in food and increasing the role of the private sector. The SAP included the abolition of import licenses and a reduction in import duties. Consequently in 1994, the SAP was abandoned, following a severe deterioration in political and economic conditions in the early nineteen-nineties. Economic instability was also reflected in a persistently high rate of inflation, which increased from an annual average of 24.0% in 1986-91, to a peak 72.8% in 1995.
Between 1996 and 1998, the Nigerian economy recorded impressive macroeconomic stability while it continued to show positive signs of growth (as reported by the Federal Ministry of Finance). These included the exchange rate and the rate of inflation. The improved performance of the economy in 1997 was as a result of the sustained implementation of a sound fiscal policy dovetailed into an anti-inflationary monetary stance. Indeed, inflation rate decelerated dramatically to reach a 7-year low of 8.5% by the end of December 1997.
The Role of Agriculture in the Country’s Economy
Table 1. Agriculture - Production indices
During the early nineteen-seventies Nigeria experienced growth rates of 8% -10% per annum, while the increase in agricultural production declined to around 4% per annum towards the end of the decade. The slow growth continued into the nineteen-eighties, with output rising by only 3.4% in 1981 and by 2.7% in 1982. The effects of drought and the government's austerity program resulted in severe 9.4% fall in agricultural output in 1983. However, a succession of good harvests, higher producer prices, reductions in cereal imports and a resurgence of public and private investment in crop production resulted in a sharp recovery in production (FAO, 2001). Table 2 presents output of some major staple food crops from 1995 – 2004.
Food output showed the strongest growth, rising by 7% in 1984 and by an estimated 10% in 1985, while total agricultural output increased by 3.8%. Agriculture was the only sector to show any significant expansion in 1986, with an estimated increase in overall agricultural production of 2.1%. From 1981-94 the average annual growth of GDP was 2.3% compared to 4.6% for the earlier period 1970-80. Average growth from agriculture from 1980 to 1992 was estimated to be 3.6% and this compares favourably with an average of 1.7% for Sub-Saharan Africa. For the earlier period agricultural production in Nigeria declined by -0.1% (World Bank, 1993). Agriculture (including hunting, forestry and fishing) contributed 33.5% of GDP in 1993 and an estimated 63.7% of the labour force was employed in the sector in that year.
Table 2. Production statistics of some major staple foods (MT)
Agricultural output increased by an estimated 4.1 per cent during 1993 compared to 1995 and 1996 with increases of 3.5 and 3.7 per cent, respectively. The value of agricultural production constituted 38.7 per cent of the nation's GDP. In spite of the continued satisfactory performance of the agricultural sector, it still fell short of the 5.5 per cent growth rate stipulated in the National Rolling Plan for 1997 – 1999 and to this date continued to decline because of lack of interest in farming by young people. The largely subsistence agricultural sector has failed to keep up with rapid population growth and Nigeria once a large net exporter of food, now must import food. According to 2004 estimate the value of agriculture production constituted 30.8%; industry, 43.8 % and services 25.4 %, of the nation’s GDP, respectively. The nation’s GDP real growth rate stood at 7.1% (CIA World Factbook, 2004).
Traditional smallholders, who use simple techniques of production and the bush-fallow system of cultivation, account for around two-thirds of Nigeria's total agricultural production. The number of state farms is relatively small, and of decreasing importance. Subsistence food crops (mainly sorghum, maize, taro, yams, cassava, rice and millet) are grown in the central and western areas of Nigeria, and are traded largely outside the cash economy. Cash crops (mainly palm kernels, cotton, cocoa, rubber and groundnuts) are grown in the east, west, mid-west and northern states of the country. It is estimated that Nigeria has about 71.2 million hectares of available agricultural land and about half of which is currently being utilized. Increasing rainfall from the semi-arid north to the tropical rain forested south allows great crop diversity, from short season cereals, sorghum, millet and wheat in the north to cassava, yams and rice in the wetter areas. In the drier north cash crops include cotton, groundnuts and tobacco, while in the south cocoa, coffee rubber, oil palm, sugar and ginger are grown.
A steady growth has been observed in the agricultural production of both staple and cash crops since 1990 and the aggregate index of agricultural production increased by 4.1 per cent in 1997 but declined in 1998. However, from 1999 all the major staples recorded significant increases over the proceeding years’ level. The intensification of on-farm adaptive research by some relevant agencies, the supply of high quality seeds/seedlings and better usage of improved storage facilities contributed to the observed improvement in staple food production. Estimates of production output for principal staple crops in 2003 were maize (5.2 million tons), sorghum (8.0 million tons), millet (6.1 million. tons) and rice (4.9 million. tons). Others include cassava (33.5m tons), yams (27.0 million tons), potatoes (6.0 million tons) and vegetables (9.1 million tons).
Among the cash crops, only cocoa makes any significant contribution to exports. Nigeria was the world's fourth largest exporter of cocoa beans in 1990/91, with sales of 135 000 tons accounting for about 7.1% of world trade in this commodity. But Nigeria's share of the world cocoa market has been substantially reduced in recent years, owing to aging trees, low producer prices, black pod disease, smuggling and labour shortages. Recent emphasis has been placed on encouraging domestic cocoa-processing, to provide higher-value products for export. Table 3 presents major cash crops production outputs in Nigeria from 1995 – 2003. Nigeria was the world's leading exporter of palm oil, until overtaken by Malaysia in 1971. The production of oil palm products has increased somewhat since 2000 however the country is still heavily dependent on imports in order to satisfy domestic needs. Like other cash-crop sectors, output of palm products suffered from labour shortages, inefficient traditional harvesting methods, and lack of vital inputs and low levels of capital investment. However, a sharp reduction in imports and large-scale replanting resulted in a substantial increase in production during the mid-nineteen-eighties. Trade liberalization and the exchange rate policies adopted in the nineteen-eighties have contributed to the improvement in palm oil production. Also there have been substantial investments in oil-milling facilities to produce vegetable oil for domestic use and since 2000 oil palm products continued to increase for the reasons stated above.
Table 3. Major cash crops production outputs (1 000 tons)
In 1990 Nigeria overtook Liberia as the largest rubber producer in Africa. Production rose from 60, 000 tons in 1986 to 147, 000 tons in 1990. It dropped to 125,000 tons in 1995 and 107, 000 tons in 2000 but went up again in 2003 to 142,000 tons and remained at 142, 000 in 2004. Benefits from a replanting programme in the eastern States, Edo and Delta states have yet to materialize, and local demand from tyre and footwear industries continues to outstrip domestic supply. A programme to increase output of rubber and palm kernels, with financial assistance from the World Bank, is being implemented. Also various state governments are encouraging farmers to increase rubber production by providing interested farmers with subsidies (FMEN, 2001). Compared to the previous years’ production (1995 – 1997), cottonseed has continued to increase and some of the reasons for the increase were considerable public and private investment in the sector, as well as incentives for local textile companies and higher tariffs on imported cotton.
The supply of animal products has been declining over the past two decades, while demand has been increasing, as a result of increases in population and urbanization. Consequently, Nigeria has remained a net importer of livestock and livestock products. Restrictions placed on imports of animal products and foodstuffs in the nineteen-eighties coupled with the introduction of the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP), which saw a massive devaluation of the Nigerian currency, initially reduced the imports of meat and dairy products. However, during the period 1995 to 1999, expenditure on the import of food and live animals (Table 4) continued to increase (FMEN, 2001).
Table 4: Importation of food and live animals from 1995 - 1999 (Nigerian
The geology of Nigeria is dominated by igneous structures that form most of the highlands and hills. The rocks of the basement complex, mainly of igneous origin, are encountered in over 60 % of the surface area. The landforms can simply be classified into highlands, plateaux, hills, plains and river valley systems. The landforms are more deeply dissected in the south than in the northern parts (Udo, 1970). Figure 4 presents dominant land classes while Figure 5 presents a simple relief map of Nigeria.
The topography of the country shows that Nigeria is highest along the
eastern border and rises to a maximum of 2,040 m above sea level at Vogel
Peak, south of the Benue river. The Jos plateau, that is located close
to the centre of the country rises to 1780 m at Sphere hill and 1,698
at Wadi Hill. The Plateau is also the watershed, from which streams flow
to Lake Chad and the rivers Niger and Benue. The land declines steadily
northward from the plateau and this area, known as the High Plains of
Hausaland, is characterized by a broad expanse of level sandy plains,
interspersed by rocky dome outcrops. To the south-west, across the Niger
River similar relief is represented in the Yoruba highlands, where the
rocky outcrops are surrounded by forest or tall grass and form the major
watershed for rivers flowing northwards to the Niger and southwards
to the sea.
Thus, Nigeria can be divided into:- (1) the high plateau; and (2) the lowlands (Iloeje, 2001) (Figure 6).
(1) The high plateaux. The three tracks of the Niger-Benue river system cut across the highland to form three blocks, i.e. the central Plateau in the north; the Eastern and North-Eastern highlands in the east; and the western Uplands in the west. It is important to highlight the fact that these highlands correspond roughly with the areas of volcanic rocks and uplifted areas of basement complex rocks. This goes to show that these areas were initially high and were able to resist erosion (Iloeje, 2001).
Based on the above description, the high plateau consists of:
(a) The Northern Central plateau – This plateau as the name suggests lies in the centre of northern Nigeria and covers nearly one-fifth of the area of the country. The surface is generally flat, but it is dotted here and there with some granite hills and ridges. The plateau is made up of two distinct platforms that lie at different levels: (i) the high plains of Hausaland forms the lower step. The average elevation stands at 750 m; (ii) the Jos plateau. Has a higher platform with an elevation of 1 500 to 1 800 m. It has a south-west steep scarp that overlooks the high plains from a height of about 1 600 metres in the north-east, but falls to these plains rather gradually. The highest part is the Shere Hills north-east of Jos where the elevation exceeds 1 650 m above sea level (Iloeje, 2001).
(b) The Eastern and North-eastern highlands – These highlands consist of the Mandara Mountains (1 200 –1 500 m) and the Biu Plateau (600 – 900 m). The Mandara Mountains are a mass of basement complex exposure while the Biu Plateau is of basalt. In eastern Nigeria, the highlands are made up of two big granite spurs that are western prolongations of the Cameroon Mountains into the Cross River Plains (Iloeje, 2001). These spurs are the Obudu Plateau that stands at a height of over 1 200 metres above the general level of the land and the Oban Hills with an average elevation of 1 200 m above sea level.
(c) The Western uplands – They cover an area of about half the size of the North Central Plateau. Most of the area lies between 300 to 600 m however the Idanre Hills, where the Plateau is highest are about 1 000 m above sea level (Iloeje, 2001).
(2) The lowlands lie mainly in the basins of the major rivers and fall roughly within the areas of sedimentary rocks lying in the basins of sedimentation.
(a) The Sokoto plains in the north-west – These extend over one twentieth of the area of Nigeria and have an average height of 150 m. They are monotonously flat. The main rivers that drain into this area are the Sokoto, Rima and Zamfara. They have flat-floored valleys that are flooded in the wet season only. The water recedes during the dry season and leaves a coating of alluvial soil behind. These seasonally flooded areas are called “fadamas” in Hausa (Iloeje, 2001).
(b) The Niger/Benue trough wrapping round the north-central plateau – This starts from the Sokoto plains in the North-west through Lokoja, and ends near Yola. The Niger/Benue trough is an elongated bow-shaped lowland. It represents a previous arm of the sea, probably an extension of the Atlantic, into which sediments were deposited. Its surface generally lies below 300 m. It has been deeply disserted by erosion into tabular hills that are separated by gorge-like river valleys (Ileoje, 2001).
(c) The Chad Basin in the North-east extremity of the country – It consists of about one-tenth of Nigeria. It is a depressed basin composed of Territory rocks. It has a average elevation of about 45 – 60 m and is separated from the Benue valley by the Biu Plateau. Except for the sand dunes of the Hadejia, the surface is almost flat. These dunes are long narrow sand ridges of about 12 – 30 m high and 275 – 365 m wide and they vary in length between 800 m and 12 km. As a result of increased rainfall, they have been overgrown by vegetation and are thus fixed in their present position (Ileoje, 2001).
(d) The interior coastal lowlands of Western Nigeria – This area lies west of the Niger. Its boundary is marked in the north by the ridge of the basement complex of the western Highlands; in the South by Quaternary deposits of the coastal margin. Rocks found in this area are Secondary and Tertiary sedimentaries, which dip gently southwards. The South dipping surface has however, sunk to below 300 m and is cut into blocks by narrow parallel valleys cut by the north-south flowing rivers (Ileoje, 2001).
(e) The lowlands and scarplands of South-eastern Nigeria – The rocks in this area are made of sandstones, shales, clays and coal. With the exception of the coastal areas and the Eastern Highlands it covers the whole of the eastern section of Nigeria. This area is divided into three sub-units (i) The Cross Rive plains, east of Enugu; (ii) The Scarplands that lies west of the longitude of Enugu and (iii) The South-east Coastal Plains that are tertiary rocks and lie south of the Scarplands (Ileoje, 2001).
(f) The Coastal Margins and swamps that lie adjacent to the seas – These run along the coast from east to west in a strip of land below 30 m and are made up of recent deposits of sand, clays and mud. This area can be divided into two (i) the lagoon coast lies in the west where the strip is narrow. Sands predominate and sand-bars cut off east-west lagoons. The Lagos lagoon is partly made up of fresh water from the rivers and partly of sea-water stranded behind a sand-bar. (ii) The Niger Delta which consists mainly of muddy deposits pushed out by the Niger into a relatively tideless salt sea. The creeks and water channels of the coastland form important fishing grounds and provide highways in this marshy area (Ileoje, 2001).
None of the soils was rated as Class 1 with high productivity by the FAO. In-short over 48 % of the Nigerian soils fall into class 4 and 5, which are mainly vertisols, alisols, acrisols, ferrasols and arensol. These soils usually have low productivity due to inadequate moisture retention capacity and low organic matter. Except for the ferrasols, they are the most dominant types found in the northern dry parts of the country.
The most systematic current information on Nigerian soils is based on the reconnaissance soil survey of the Nigeria project whose field-work was completed in 1985. The geology and geomorphological processes that shaped the landforms greatly influenced the soils.
Table 5: Productivity potential of Nigerian soils
Nigerian soils can be classified into groups made up of four (climatic) zones that are soil associations. The groups are: (i) Northern zone of sandy soils (ii) Interior zone of laterite soils; (iii) Southern belt of forest soils; and (iv) zone of alluvial soils (Oyenuga, 1967; Iloeje, 2001) (Figure 7) and the soil types (classifications) are well distributed among the groups (Adegbola, 1979).
Besides the above classification, Sobulo (1988) reported that Nigerian soils can also be broadly grouped into four major categories for management purposes and these groupings are:-
The seasonal pattern of the south differs from that of the north and the south has four seasons: (i) The long wet season that starts in mid-March and lasts till July is a season of heavy rains and high humidity. Plants and pasture are fresh and green, grasses and weeds grow rapidly and look attractive. This is the planting season. (ii) The short dry season. This is the August break and it starts from July – August and lasts for about one month. (iii) The short wet season. It follows the August break and lasts from September to October. During this period rainfall is not usually heavy compared to the first wet season and the total amount of rainfall is less; and (iv) The long dry or harmattan season which continues from November to mid-March. Harmattan mornings are usually cool and misty, however the mist disappears after sunrise. The afternoons are full of haze due to dust in the air brought by winds from the north. At this period of the year grasses die off and leaves of some trees turn brown and later fall ( Oyenuga, 1967; Ileoje, 2001).
In the north, the long dry season starts earlier and ends later. Here there is nothing like the August break, therefore the two wet seasons become one. Therefore two seasons are prominent – a long dry season that spans from October to April, and a wet season for the remaining five months. (i) The long dry season: there is lack of rainfall and the dry conditions that prevail cause cracks to develop on clay soils. However, this season is welcomed because the nights are cool and the afternoon haze helps to wade off the sun’s heat; and (ii) the wet season that is ushered in by frequent storms. This is the planting season in the north.
Rainfall varies from place to place and from season to season. In the wet season, the full effect of the tropical maritime air mass is the main reason that brings rainfall, while in the dry season the rainfall is less. The total annual rainfall decreases from the south to the north. The southern two-thirds of the country have double peak rainfall while the northern third has a single peak. Seasonal distribution and annual rainfall for selected towns are presented in Figure 8 and Table 6, respectively. For example Brass has 379 cm, Jos 143 cm, Sokoto 71 cm, and Maiduguri 63 cm (Iloeje, 2001).
July is the middle of the wet season and the relative humidity is usually high because of the warm wet air that prevails. The humidity is over 80 % in the South and never goes below 60 % in the north. Over 80 % of the rains fall within the wet months of April – September. In the South the figure is above 70 % and in the north nearly 100 % of the rains are during these months (Table 6).
Table 6. Seasonal distribution of rainfall in selected towns in Nigeria (North to South)
Temperature also varies from place to place and from season to season. It has been observed that there are considerable contrasts between the coastal areas and the interior, as well as between the high plateau and the lowlands. On the plateau, the mean annual temperature varies between 21 0C and 27 0C. In the Jos area, temperatures are between 20 0C and 250 C. On the lowlands such as the Sokoto Plains, the Chad Basin and the Niger-Benue lowlands, the mean annual temperature is 27 0C. The coastal fringes have lower means than the interior. It appears therefore that altitude and proximity to the seas determine to a large extent the distribution of temperature in Nigeria. Generally, temperatures are high throughout the year because Nigeria lies within the tropics and the mean monthly figure could go above 27 0C, while daily maximum temperatures can go between beyond 35 0C – 38 0C depending on the location (Iloeje, 2001).
Figure 9 presents mean annual temperature distribution.
In general while there is hardly any dry season in the extreme southern tip of the country, the wet season hardly lasts for more than three months in the north-eastern part. Similarly annual rainfall totals range from 2,500 mm in the south to less than 400 mm in parts of the extreme north (FMEN, 2001).
The North with its lower rainfall and shorter rainy season consists of savanna land, and this represents 80 % of the vegetation zones of the country. The savanna land forms an excellent natural habitat for a large number of grazing livestock such as cattle, goats, sheep, horses, camels, and donkeys.
The natural vegetation zones resulted from the interaction of the climate, humidity and rainfall (Oyenuga, 1967), and soils (Iloeje, 2001). These factors have been modified by human activities and man’s pattern of land use (Oyenuga 1967; Iloeje, 2001). Based on the above, Oyenuga (1967) classified Nigeria into nine (9) agro-ecological zones viz:- (i) The mangrove forest and coastal vegetation, (ii) the freshwater swamp communities, (iii) the tropical high forest zone, (iv) the derived Guinea savanna with relict forest, (v) the Southern Guinea savanna zone, (vi) The northern Guinea savanna zone, (vii) The Jos plateau, (viii) The Sudan savanna, and (ix) The Sahel savanna. However, Iloeje, (2001) grouped the country into (A) forests and (B) savanna zones. These two major zones were further sub-divided into three zones each such as (A) Forests that consist of (i) salt-water swamp, (ii) fresh-water swamp, (iii) high forest; and (B) Savanna zone that consist of (i) guinea savanna (ii) Sudan savanna, and (iii) Sahel savanna (Figure 10).
The mangrove forest and coastal vegetation: This occupies the coastal areas and consists of tidal swamps, interspersed with numerous creeks and lagoons. The mangrove swamp is noted for the mangrove species of trees (Rhizophora) that dominate the swamp and to a much less extent by Conocarpus erectus and Laguncularia racemosa (white mangrove). Among the Rhizophora spp. Rhizophora racemosa dominates, occupying an estimated 99 % of the entire mangrove area. The coastal swamp area is not widely cultivated except for swamp rice in places where they are stabilized and non-saline.
The freshwater swamp communities: This area which originally occupied 18 130 km2 lies immediately inland of the mangrove swamp but on a slightly higher ground. The lagoons or the rivers that overflow their banks in the wet season supply it with fresh water because the area is low lying, therefore it is flooded with rain water and lies under rain for sometimes eight or nine months of the year. The periodical flooding experienced gradually deposits new layers of alluvial soils on the surface of the land, a deposit that leads to the formation of more solid ground behind the swamp, where we find the beginning of the rain forest. This zone consists of a mixture of trees. Important among the vegetation of this zone are the various palm and fibre plants such as Raphia spp., Raphia vinifera, the wine palm and Raphia hookeri, the roof-mat palm. They are used for thatching mats and for providing rafter, poles and stiff piassava fibre for the production of brooms. Leaves of the pandanus palm (Pandanus candelabrum) are used for preparing sleeping mats and baskets. Fishing and fibre-making are the important products of the fresh-water swamp community.
The tropical high forest zone: This zone is the major source of timber for all large constructional and cabinet making timber. Of all the zones it contains the most valuable species of vegetation. However due to human activities, this one-time forested area has been drastically reduced. Bush fallows, villages and farms are found scattered throughout the zone. Presently the drier end of its inland side is becoming reduced to derived guinea savanna because of felling and clearings. In the humid rain forest are found economic cash crops such as oil palm, (Elaeis guineensis), cocoa (Theobroma cacao), Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) banana/plantain (Musa spp.) and cola nut (Cola nitida). Also found are some principal staple food crops such as yam, cocoyams, sweet potato, maize, rice, groundnut, cowpeas and beans as well as a number of fruits. This zone is also good for sylviculture. A number of timber trees such as the African mahogany (Khaya ivorensis and K. grandifoliola), the scented sapele wood (Entandrophragma cylindricum) and iroko (Chlorophora excelsa) to mention but three are found in this zone. This zone therefore is very important in terms of food production and timber for construction and cabinet making (Oyenuga, 1967).
The derived Guinea savanna with relict forest: This was originally the drier part of the high forest. Due to bush burning and overgrazing, cultivation and hunting activities over a long period in the zone, the high forest trees were destroyed and the forest that used to exist is now replaced with a mixture of grasses and scattered trees. However, along the streams and in wet low-lying areas were surface water accumulates there are still some traces of forests. The Guinea savanna is characterized by grasses such as Pennisetum, Andropogon, Panicum, Chloris, Hyparrhenia, Paspalum and Melinis. These tall grasses are characteristic of the Guinea savanna proper.
The Guinea Savanna: This zone consists of the larger part of the savanna zone and is sometimes divided into the southern Guinea savanna and northern Guinea savanna. It is the broadest vegetation zone in the country and it occupies almost half of its area. It is located in the middle of the country, extends southwards to southern Nigeria and pushes northward beyond Zaria (Figure 10). It covers an area that has 100 – 150 cm of annual rainfall and where the wet season lasts for 6 - 8 months. The false balsam Copaiba (Daniellia oliveri), used for carving mortars and pestles for pounding yam, Terminalia, Lophira, Afzeila, Daniellia and Vitex, Khaya senegalensis (the poor mahogany) are the species found in the southern Guinea savanna. In the northern guinea savanna species such as Isoberlinia doka and I. tomentosa form the bulk of the scattered woodland. Also found are locust bean tree (Parkia filicoidea), shea butter tree (Butyrospermum parkii) and mangoes (Mangifera indica). Comparatively, there are fewer trees in the northern Guinea savanna than in the southern Guinea savanna and the trees are not as tall as those found in the southern Guinea savanna. Most of the tall grasses found in the derived Guinea savanna, are also found in the Guinea savanna, however, they are less luxuriant. The appearance of this zone differs from season to season. During the rainy season, the whole zone is green and covered with tall grasses that grow and reach maturity rapidly and thus become fibrous and tough. In the dry season they tend to die and disappear and one can see for kilometres. This clearing is due to several periodical bush-burning that occurs during the dry season between November and April, carried out to either assist in farm clearance or hunting.
The Sudan savanna: This zone is chiefly associated with groundnuts, sorghum and millet cultivation. Grasses found in this zone are not generally as tall, coarse or thick on the ground as those found in the Guinea savanna zone. Here there is continuous grass cover of the short and feathery grasses on a large scale. The grass vegetation is interspersed with farms and thick bush trees such as shea butter tree (Butyrospermum parkii) and Acacia albida. The genus Acacia and Combretum, especially Combretum micranthum are well represented and prolific in the Sudan savanna zone. Also found in the zone are locust bean tree (Parkia filicoidea), tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica) and mango (Mangifera indica). A large portion of this zone falls within the tsetse fly free belt of West Africa and it is excellent for the rearing and breeding of ruminant livestock (cattle, goats, sheep, donkeys, horses and camels). The nomadic Fulani roam about this zone in search of fodder and water for their livestock.
The Sahel savanna: Occupies about 18 130 km2 of the extreme northeast corner of Nigeria and is the last vegetation zone of the savanna type between the Sahara and the northern frontier of the Sudan savanna (Figure 10). The annual rainfall is low and the rainy season lasts between three to four months. Here the vegetation is not only sparse but the grasses are very short. This zone is characterized by plants such as Cenchrus biflorus, and Acacia raddiana. The shrubs that are predominantly scattered in the zone are African myrrh (Commiphora africana) and Leptadenia spartum. As a rule this zone is not cultivated without irrigation. The people found in this zone are the nomadic herdsmen, and they are careful not to burn the grass found because sparse as it is it provides the only pasture available for their grazing livestock.
Montane vegetation: There is no true montane type vegetation in Nigeria, but slight variations in the prevailing plant cover introduced by relief. For instance the Jos plateau, the Bauchi Highland and the Adamawa Plateau lie in the guinea savanna zone, however, the grasses found on these highlands are shorter and the trees are fewer than at lower level. The Fulani who live in great numbers in the area turn the available fields into good pasture for their grazing animals. Figure 11 presents photographs from some agro-ecological zones.
The main constraints on feed resources in all the zones are the destruction of perennial tree cover for firewood, bush fires caused by hunters; livestock rearers and overgrazing. These man-made constraints often lead to serious degradation of the pastoral resources and in some cases to an irreversible process of desertification, especially in the Sahel zone. The sub-humid zone (SHZ) has a high potential for ruminant production because of high rainfall and vast land area for forage production. However, the SHZ contains only 19.59 per cent of the total national livestock (Otchere and Nuru 1988). This low percentage of total livestock unit in the Nigerian SHZ is attributed partly to tsetse infestation and high humidity.
|4. RUMINANT LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION
Main production systems
Traditional or extensive or Village systems
Nomadic or pastoral systems
Herding is a monumental task for the Fulani who are always trying to get the best grazing condition for their animals. Contrary to popular belief, moving with animals is not the delight of the pastoralists. The migrant Fulani in Nigeria move because they have no choice (Otchere et al., 1985). A survey (Iro, undated) reported that three-quarters of the mobile Fulani indicated that herding is not only toilsome, it is becoming more strenuous. Nevertheless, about ten percent of the Fulani, mostly those who are near dams and grazing reserves, say herding is becoming easier. Ninety-seven percent, including those who say herding is becoming less laborious, prefer raising animals within the precinct of the homestead. In general terms the pastoral systems practiced by the Fulani herders fall into three groups – Exclusively pastoralists; transhumant pastoralists and agro-pastoralists.
Exclusive pastoralists:These are mainly livestock producers who do not grow crops and therefore depend on the sales of live animals and dairy products to buy grains, other food items and other necessities. Most pastoralists under this system may move very long distances every year. It is a popular assumption that they wander from place to place without any logic; in general they have set migration routes and often long-standing arrangements with farmers to make use of their crop residues. It is only when there is drought, a failure of the pasture or the spread of diseases that they diverge from their existing patterns. The pastoralists in the Niger-Benue valley migrate very short distances between the wet and dry seasons. They use the same grazing areas and routes each year with the thatching on houses at each location repaired annually. Most of the pastoralists spend the dry season in the River Niger floodplains and only move to higher grounds before the flood rises during the rains.
Transhumant pastoralists: Transhumance pastoralists in the drier north of the country rear a very high proportion of the cattle herd and many sheep and goats. Pastoralists under this production system have permanent homestead and base. Their animals depend on the natural forage legumes and grasses for subsistence but these are usually unavailable in the dry season. They move in response to seasonal changes in the quality of grazing and the tsetse fly challenges. The travelling unit is normally made of a common herd owned by close male relatives, father and son. Grain and other basic needs are purchased from sale proceeds of live animals (surplus male sheep, goats and cattle) by the men or selling of milk and other dairy products by the women in the local markets. They grow crops mainly for domestic use rather than for the market. The male folk take away the majority of the herd in search of grazing, however they leave older members of the community with the nucleus of lactating women. They return in the wet season to assist with crop cultivation. They do not have traditional grazing rights and often move to the south during the dry season to fatten their animals for sale (Aregheore, 2001). The animals move from their arid home range to the wetter southern parts where vegetation remains green and suitable for grazing.
Agro-pastoralists: These are semi-settled pastoralists and they are found in many parts of northern Nigeria. They cultivate areas sufficient to feed their families from their own cereal production. In Bornu most pastoralists fall into this category. They hold land rights, use their own or hired labour to cultivate land and grow crops such as yams and cassava in addition to the staple cereals such as sorghum, millet and maize. In the system, the average herd of cattle is small compared to other pastoral systems, because they no longer rely solely on cattle and the finite grazing area around their environs that can be reached in a day will limit herd size. Most pastoralists in this system have preferences for particular breeds.
Mixed farming (Integrated Crop/Livestock):
Mixed farming is one of the more subtle qualitative changes that have taken place within local systems of Agriculture in Nigeria (Bourn, et al., 1994). For example, the marked reduction in pastoral nomads; the widespread sedentarisation of pastoralists and their adoption of crop cultivation in addition to keeping livestock; the uptake of animal husbandry and fattening of livestock by arable farmers; and the utilization of crop residues by livestock farmers in exchange for dairy products and/or manure (Van Raay, 1975; Bourn, et al., 1994) are all indicative of a progressive and widespread trend towards mixed farming (FAO, 1983; and McIntyre et al., 1992). Mixed farming is firmly established in Nigeria as a production system and the further integration of livestock production within local farming systems will definitely become one of the major strategic goals of livestock development in Nigeria (Bourn, et al., 1994). Mixed farming is practiced in almost all agro-ecological zones of Nigeria; from rainforests to the arid North. The principal objectives of this system are three fold: (i) complementary benefit from an optimum mixture of crops and livestock; (ii) Spreading income and risks over both crops and livestock production, and (iii) scope to adjust crop/livestock ratio to social and economic needs and opportunities. Most retirees from government services embrace mixed farming and the interest is growing because it uses space more efficiently and spreads risks more uniformly. This process is now firmly established in Nigeria and the further integration of livestock production with local farming systems is destined to become one of the major strategic goals of livestock development.
Peri-urban and modern ruminant livestock husbandry
Table 7a. Data on ruminant livestock population
Table 7b. Nigeria statistics for meat and milk production, live animal and milk imports for the period 1996-2005
Source: FAOSTAT 2006; n.r. no record
Figure 12 presents the seasonal relationship between cattle distribution and cultivated land in the Nigerian Sub-humid zone, while Table 8 shows the estimated intensity of land cultivation in the sub-humid zone of Nigeria in relation to the cattle population it can support. These gave projections of how many cattle the zone could support if any particular intensity of cultivation becomes typical. The projections peak when about 40 percent of the land is under cultivation, but even at 70 percent, if this intensity could be achieved, this zone in Nigeria could still support the 3.5 million head of cattle it is reported to be supporting at present (Milligan, 1982). These projections are based on cropping and livestock husbandry practices.
Figure 13 presents cattle distribution in both wet and rainy seasons in Nigeria. About 80 % of the cattle, mainly the Zebu type, are concentrated in the savanna zones while the remaining 20 % are found elsewhere and 10 % of them in the South. Those cattle that naturally have habitats in the south are mainly members of the hump less breeds (beef cattle). The unequal distribution of cattle is due to geographical factors.
Intensive fattening of young cattle in which the edible carcass yield is increased by 30 – 40 % during a short period of fattening seems to offer a means of increasing productivity rapidly. Intensive beef fattening plays a significant role in situations where range cattle are so undernourished and lean that a short period on a high plane of nutrition is necessary to increase their productivity and prepare them for the market (Olayiwole, et al. 1981; Aregheore, 2001). Except for the report of Olayiwole, et al. (1981) data on commercial feedlot operations in Nigeria are scant. Olayiwole et al. (1975) and Olayiwole et al. (1981) indicated that feedlot fattening was highly profitable, however the situation is a complex one because it is influenced by several factors such as purchase price of cattle and their condition, availability of feed and costs, marketing and marketing price of finished products.
Beef Cattle of the derived and guinea savanna
Table 9. Comparative productivity data for breeding Muturu females
Dairy development in Nigeria
Ninety six percent (96%) of all cattle in Nigeria are in the hands of the pastoral Fulani. This pastoral herd is the most important source of domestic milk. Only a few imported cattle breeds such as Friesians and Brown Swiss, and their crosses are kept in experimental dairy farms owned by government agencies. A few private commercial dairy farms, owned by companies and individuals, are known to exist. These farms, which constitute the organized dairy farms, produce an insignificant proportion of the domestic milk supply (World Bank, 1992; Yahuza, 2001). Four major production systems can be identified in the country. They include pastoral systems, usually carried out by the Fulani who control at least 96% of the cattle population. The Fulani are mostly semi-sedentary, moving to places where seasonal water supplies make pasture available during the dry season. However, some Fulani are nomadic and are constantly on the move in search of water and pasture. They keep large herds and depend on milk and dairy products for sustenance. Some settled Fulani however, also exist.
In the traditional system, the producers are generally peasants and are often at some considerable distance from urban centres and are generally scattered among traditional communities. They are usually of nomadic origin, and their production methods still bear the stamp of tribal past (Olalokun, 1973). They practice no selection or breeding for improvement of milk yield and other traits desirable in a good dairy animal. There is no milk recording and the production of their animals is often difficult to determine. They do not grow pasture therefore they rely on the grazing available. They usually follow their animals to fresh feeding grounds with a change of season. Feeding their animals is the greatest problem facing these producers. The availability of natural grazing land is determined by the length of the rainy season. Generally they feed no supplements to the cows which are not consciously maintained as dairy animals (Olalokun, 1973).
The production system, the cows and the facilities, are all very poor by modern dairying standards, however, there are thousands of such producing units and there are hardly enough to provide the basis for a decent standard of living for those dependent on them. There are many people and relatively few dairy cows among the millions of cattle to be found under this system. Consequently, they account for approximately 80 – 90 % of the total milk supplies in Nigeria (Olalokun, 1973). A study by ILCA (1976) showed that White Fulani or Bunaji cattle, under the traditional system of production, have calving intervals of 22 to 24 months or more. Age at first calving ranges from 48 to 50 months and milk production (i.e. milk drawn excluding that consumed by the calf is 306 kg over a lactation period of 441 days (253 kg/year). Moreover, calf mortality can be as high as 28% (Yahuza, 2001).
Most of the national herd is in the hands of the pastoralists and the ILCA (1976) study, which was conducted with herds in the traditional system, seems to illustrate the productivity of the national herd. Based on the productivity of the cattle population under the traditional system of production it was estimated in 2001 that domestic milk production would reach 515.3 thousand tonnes. Table 10 shows the predicted size of the cattle population and the magnitude of milk production for the period between 2001 and 2005 (Yahuza, 2001), while Table 11 presents data on estimated human population and annual demand for and supply of milk from the national herd, 2000 to 2005. In addition to the supply of milk from the national herd, an insignificant quantity of milk is supplied by the commercial dairy farms. Several processed dairy products are imported into Nigeria. These include evaporated milk, powdered milk, butter, cheese and cream. Condensed milk and milk powder have dominated the Nigerian milk import trade for a long time (Yahuza, 2001).
The industry, through commercial dairy processing plants and marketing segments, provides employment and value. Currently, however, very few of the 63 known processing plants are operating. Those that are still functioning operate at less than 20% of capacity. At present, the market has been taken over by ‘cottage’ outfits that process and market yoghurt in urban areas. Most of these use milk powder to produce yoghurt.
Table 10. Estimated cattle population and milk production
Improvement of the living standard of Nigerians has been the major focus of various national development plans (first in 1962/68 and the fourth in 1981/85). Consequently, the dairy industry, through which better nutrition can be provided to the citizens, was given adequate attention in these development plans. In some selected areas, the government established dairy farms with local and imported breeds of cattle. In addition, milk collection centres including mobile collection points were established (Yahuza, 2001).
Table 11. Estimated human population and annual demand for and supply of milk from the national herd, 2000 to 2005.
Before independence, dairying in Nigeria was influenced by the colonial experience, which placed complete reliance on large government farms to meet the growing demands of the cities. After the colonial era and as part of the government’s strategy to encourage dairy industrial development, federal, regional or state governments established dairy-processing plants throughout the country. Among these were Madara Limited in Jos, Plateau State, and Agege Dairy Farm near Lagos. The first herd of indigenous cattle was upgraded with imported Bos taurus cattle, which by 1975 produced nearly 200 thousand litres of milk/year from 69 milking cows. Other government dairy farms were established at Ibadan, Kaduna, Maiduguri, Minna, Ilorin and Kano (Yahuza, 2001).
Perhaps, the major achievement of these interventions was the creation of awareness of the need for dairy development as part of overall efforts to improve on the performance of the livestock sub-sector. One of the direct results of this awareness has been the establishment of milk processing plants by both the private and public sectors, as a means of increasing domestic production. However, the availability of cheap imported milk powder in particular and other diary products in general has created a disincentive for the development of a domestic dairy industry, particularly as the processing plants have completely neglected the appropriate pricing and milk collection aspects (NLPD 1992). Since the introduction of the Structural Adjustment Program in 1986, the processing plants have been operating at less than 20% of full capacity because the price of imported milk powder and butter oil has become prohibitive.
Traditional milk products
Goats: There are three main breeds of goats in Nigeria: the West African Dwarf, the Sokoto Red and the long-legged or Sahel. Goats are renowned for their hardiness and can survive in most environments. West African Dwarf goats otherwise known as the Fouta Djallon are kept in the forest zones and in the Middle Belt; Sokoto Reds are kept throughout the north; and Sahel goats are a northern breed, restricted to a strip along the frontier with the Niger. They are reared principally for their meat and skin. Although pastoral Sahel goats are found in the northern semi-arid zone, most goats are kept in villages. The commonest production system is that of seasonal confinement. Northern goats are found to be markedly more productive than West African Dwarf goats, with lower ages at first kidding and shorter kidding intervals, although they produced fewer kids per kidding (Oyenuga, 1967; Bourn et al., 1994). Goats provide over 25 % of total lean meat consumed in Nigeria (FAO, 1966; Mecha and Adegbola, 1980) therefore they are the small ruminants of choice.
Sheep: Sheep play an important role in the social economic life of the people of Nigeria. They also make a significant contribution to the national economy. There are four main types of sheep native to Nigeria and these are Balami, Uda, Yankasa and West African Dwarf. Balami and Uda are kept in the semi-arid regions, West African Dwarf sheep in the south and Yankasa throughout the country (Bourn et al., 1994). These four breeds differ considerably in size, coat colour and other characteristics (Adu and Ngere, 1979). All indigenous sheep are hairy and can be broadly grouped into large, long-legged types and the dwarf type. Sheep are the second most numerous pastoral species, and small flocks accompany many cattle herds in the north and in the Middle Belt. A comparison of pastoral and village stock shows that pastoral animals are generally more productive. The productivity of West African Dwarf sheep was substantially lower than that of other breeds. All Nigerian sheep are used for meat and are rarely milked. In the north, they are eaten regularly and form part of the daily protein supply, but there is also a marked variation in demand coinciding with religious festivals. As a result, there are dramatic seasonal price fluctuations, and in some areas the household fattening of sheep for sale is a major economic activity.
|5. THE PASTURE RESOURCE
With the current increase in crop production through massive land clearing, coupled with population growth and hence the development of more and larger towns and cities, the land-use pattern is changing and less land is available for crop and livestock production. Herbage forms the most important and cheapest feed for ruminant livestock. It is more economical to use grassland as a source of meat and milk because grass herbage cannot be used directly by man, only indirectly through animals that convert it to edible products. In Nigeria, pasture development has not been developed except on Government and University, experimental, teaching and demonstration farms. Consequently ruminant livestock depend on natural grasslands that are nutritionally poor. Most of the livestock population in Nigeria is under extensive systems and forage availability is an important nutritional factor.
The introduction of pasture crops into Nigeria started in the nineteen-fifties (Onifade and Agishi 1988) and over the years pasture agronomists and ruminant livestock nutritionists have investigated pasture plants that could stand the variations of agro-ecological zones (De Leeuw and Brinckman, 1974; Olubajo, 1974 and Ademosun, 1974). Scientists in Nigeria have identified suitable pasture plants to meet the variations of the agro-ecological zones, therefore, different grasses and legumes are found in the different agro-ecological zones (Olubajo, 1974; Agishi, 1979; 1983 and Onifade and Agishi, 1988). Various grasses species at present exist in Nigeria and the notable ones include Cynodon nlemfuensis; Andropogon spp. (Andropogon gayanus and A. tectorum), Panicum maximum, Pennisetum spp. (with Pennisetum purpureum and P. pedicellatum), Imperata cylindrica, Melinis minutiflora, and Setaria sphacelata. Also a number of exotic plants such as Cenchrus ciliaris, Anthephora nigritana and others were successfully established (Oyenuga, 1967).
The legumes which include Stylosanthes guianensis, Centrosema pubescens, Pueraria phaseoloides, Calopogonium mucunoides have proved very valuable. Desmodium spp. and Atylosia scarabaeoides are found in the savannas of the north. There are also a number of tree legumes and multipurpose trees such as Leucaena leucocephala, Spondias mombin, Gliricidia sepium, Erythrina spp. to mention but are few, that provide foliage for livestock at all seasons of the year (Aregheore, 1995; Aregheore and Yahaya, 2001). It will however, require social and cultural changes amongst the nomadic and livestock owners if they are to adopt the technologies that have been developed and to treat livestock ventures as commercial enterprises, not just a way of life. As part of the new technology in animal husbandry, improved pastures produce more dry matter of high nutritive value and lead to greater animal productivity than do native pastures (Nuru, 1996).
In the Sahel savanna where the rainy season lasts between three and four months of the year, the dominant grass species are Aristida stipoides and Schoenefeldia gracilis. The Sudan savanna zone which falls within the tsetse fly free zone belt of West Africa is excellent for rearing and breeding of ruminant animals (cattle, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys and camels). The grass species in this zone are the quick growing annuals that reseed easily. Browse trees also contribute to the fodder potential of the zone. The grass species found include Cenchrus spp., Schoenefeldia gracilis, Eragrostis tremula, Aristida and Loudetia species, Pennisetum pedicillatum, Andropogon gayanus and Andropogon pseudapricus. Table 12 presents a summary of forage species found to be adapted in the different vegetation zones of Nigeria (Onifade and Agishi, 1988).
The northern Guinea savanna consists of open woodland and has the following grass species:- Hyparrhenia spp., Andropogon gayanus, Imperata cylindrica, Pennisetum pedicellatum, Digitaria spp. and Setaria sphacelata, While the Southern Guinea savanna or the tree savanna zone that represents a transitional zone between forests and the savanna zones has the following grass species mainly:- Pennisetum purpureum, Andropogon tectorum, Panicum maximum and some species found in the northern Guinea savanna zone. In general, the Guinea savanna zone is characterized by grass species such as Pennisetum, Andropogon, Panicum, Chloris, Hyparrhenia, Paspalum and Melinis. These tall grasses are replacement for the destroyed forest trees that are characteristic of the Guinea savanna proper.
The productivity, chemical composition and nutritive value of grasses and legumes found in Nigeria vary greatly according to species, the nature and fertility of the soil, water relations; seasons of the year, disease control and the stage of growth at which the grass species are cut or grazed. The effect of seasonality on ruminant livestock production is also very important. During the mid-wet season, forage biomass is higher in quality and quantity, with crude protein up to 9 per cent in most of the native grasses. Natural grasses and legumes are rich and highly digestible at this period. As the dry season sets in the protein level drops and the roughage quantity increases. There is an increase in lignin content and voluntary intake decreases. This is a poor feed resource, resulting in weight loss and decreased fertility and milk yield for up to 4-5 months of the year. The severity and duration of low-quality feed is common to all parts of the country due to the rapid growth of pasture grass species. In the drier northern states of Nigeria where most of the ruminant livestock are concentrated, the prolonged dry season and high temperatures accompanied by rapid deterioration in quality (mostly proteins) of available pasture affects the productivity of animals.
The marked seasonal changes affect the quality and quantity of forage (Aregheore, 1996). Under favourable conditions dry matter yield in the northern savannas can reach as much as 2 000 kg per hectare, enough to support one to two ruminant livestock units per hectare. However, after the rainy season the quantity of forage declines rapidly and the lack of woody vegetation means that little forage is available in the dry season. Given the short-term availability of high-quality pastures, movement of animals is eminently reasonable and ecologically sound during the dry season (Nuru, 1996; Aregheore, 2001; Aregheore, 1995).
The effect of seasonality on ruminant livestock production is also very important. In the mid wet season, forage biomass is higher in quality and quantity, with crude protein up to 9 per cent in most of the native grasses. Natural grasses and legumes are rich and highly digestible at this period. As the dry season sets in, the protein level drops and the fibre increases. There is an increase in lignin and voluntary intake decreases which makes it a poor feed, resulting in weight loss and decreased fertility and milk yield for 4-5 months of the year. The severity and duration of low-quality feed differs from the south to the north within the states. To worsen the ecology and its available food resources further, there is widespread annual burning of native grasslands, thereby drastically reducing the amount of forage on offer (Nuru, 1996). A combination of the following factors - low-quality roughage and bush burning, which reduce the biomass available in quantity and quality – have been observed to lead to weight losses ranging from 300 to 400 g per head per day for cattle (Zemmelink 1974) and up to 15 per cent of body weight in sheep (Otchere et al. 1977).
For example, the crude nitrogen content of Cenchrus biflorus, a characteristic Sahelian grass, can drop from 16 per cent in growing plants during the rainy season to 4 per cent in straw in November and only 2.6 per cent in straw in April (Boudet 1975). For cattle a nitrogen content of at least 5 per cent is required to prevent weight loss. Without supplemental feed, cattle under these conditions will clearly tend to lose weight and may not survive if they must be driven long distances to market.
During the period of rapid growth the nutrient content of these natural grasses on average is about 25 % dry matter; 10 % crude protein; 6 % ash and a fibre content of 35 % crude fibre or 43 % acid detergent fibre (ADF). As the dry season advances and conditions become severe, their nutritional quality declines to the extent that crude protein could fall to as low as 2 %. Ash values also decline to about 3 – 4 % as a result of translocation to the root system, while fibre content increases in response to the process of lignification, and sometimes the crude fibre could be as high as 50 % or 60 % ADF (Smith, 1992). These grasses cannot meet the nutrient requirements of grazing livestock for most of the year. Even during the rains they can only satisfy maintenance requirements (Smith, 1992).
Some of the browse species are Adenodolichos paniculatus, Desmodium velutinum and Sphenostylis schweinfurthii (Omokaye, et al. 2001). During the dry season the most selected browse plants in natural grasslands by sheep and goats in subhumid Nigeria are Khaya senegalensis, Adenodolichos paniculatus and Gmelina arborea (Olayemi et al. 1998; Omokaye, et al. 2001).
Besides the savanna zones, natural grassland is found along road embankments and fallow lands in the tropical high forest zone. This is the grassland used by nomads who travel with their animals during the dry season to the south. In the high rainforest zone, grasses available in the natural grassland are Panicum maximum, Cynodon nlemfuensis, Pennisetum purpureum, some weeds and forbs (Aregheore, 2001). Also some trees such as Spondias mombin may be found on fallows. The low protein contents of most natural grassland is a constraint, however, legumes such as Centrosema pubescens and Stylosanthes spp. can be introduced. Dry matter yields of native pastures are relatively low but as can be seen from Figure 15 the crude protein levels were higher than on native pasture when Stylosanthes was over-sown into natural grassland to improve the productivity of livestock.
The humid zones still have potential for development because they are stocked below their carrying capacity and are much more productive in terms of dry matter than the drier zones (Table 13).
The low nutritive value of natural forage is the major constraint to livestock productivity in the humid zones of West Africa (ILCA, 1979); protein has the most important influence on animal production. In general the crude protein (CP) content of forage rarely exceeds 6 percent for more than six months of the year and some form of supplementation is necessary if calving rates, milk yields and growth rates are to be raised (Milligan and Kaufmann, 1980). These supplements are in short supply owing to increasing demand from agricultural and industrial users.
The use of highly productive good quality pasture grasses and legumes resulted in increased productivity in grazing animals in trials in Nigeria (Agishi, 1971, de Leeuw and Agishi 1978). Research data on both indigenous and exotic forage species in the savanna zones have been reported (Agishi, 1982; Agishi, 1983; Onifade and Agishi, 1988; Shehu and Akinola, 1995). Shehu and Akinola, (1995) evaluated the growth of two grasses [Buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris cv Biloela) and green panic (Panicum maximum var. trichoglume) and two tropical legumes [Caribbean stylo (Stylosanthes hamata cv Verano) and Townsville stylo (S. humilis cv Paterson)] in pure stands and grass legume mixture. Caribbean stylo-green panic swards gave the highest dry matter yields of 3.83 t/ha and 4.97 t/ha in the first and second years. Caribbean stylo-buffel grass mixtures averaged over all harvesting dates produced the largest yields of 2.38 and 3.94 t/ha for each year of the study. Also crude protein concentration varied from 18.22 to 5.94 in the legumes and 7.43 – 2.37 % in the grasses. On the basis of crude protein they recommended 95 days after sowing and 90 days of re-growth for conducting hay harvest and livestock grazing on all swards.
The use of pasture legumes is advocated to reduce feed deficiencies and the low quality of available feed during the dry season period that constitute major constraints for optimum livestock production from the savanna rangelands. The use of high yielding legumes as a sole crop or in mixture with grasses is one way of achieving year-round quality forage. Centro (Centrosema pubescens) in this regard has emerged as one of the best legumes for the derived savanna and forest zones following initial screening at Ibadan (in western Nigeria) and Shika (in northern Nigeria) (Omokaye, 2001). Thus, due to C. pubescens quality it was recommended for sown pastures as well as range improvement and /or rehabilitation (Agishi, 1983).
Omokaye (2001) also examined the effect of sowing date, phosphorus level and stage of maturity on herbage quantity/quality and chemical composition of C. pubescens in the year of establishment and reported that forage yields at the initial harvest, yields of regrowth and total yields decreased as planting date was delayed but increased with phosphorus application. Delay of the initial harvest to 14 weeks post planting dramatically increased forage yield while still providing a high quality product. The materials harvested from all treatments, at the initial harvest were high in quality. The N and Ca concentration in centro, even in the unfertilised material were above the critical levels of 1.8 % N and 3.5 % Ca suggested by Minson et al. (1976) for young beef cattle. Also the P concentrations were above the critical level of 0.12 % suggested by Little, (1980).
|6. OPPORTUNITIES FOR
IMPROVEMENT OF FODDER RESOURCES
Over the years legumes have received a lot of research attention in Nigeria, involving seed germination, establishment, fertilizer requirements, and defoliation under cutting and grazing, and seed production. The general findings reported by Agishi (1983) are as follows:-
Legumes have been successfully established by farmers and agro-pastoralists in grassland as "fodder banks" and in cropped areas on fallows, (Tarawali and Mohamed-Saleem, 1995) using low input techniques, developed by research institutes and extension agencies. In the savannas of northern Nigeria where the technology was developed, the productivity of Stylosanthes fodder banks varied from 3 000 to 5 000 kg/ha and the legume composition from 50 to 70% (Mohammed-Saleem and Kaufmann, 1982) (Table 14).
Centrosema pubescens and Stylosanthes gracilis have proved very useful in improved pasture. Animals readily graze C. pubescens and it is one of the most used legumes in grass/legume mixtures. It is compatible with Cynodon nlemfuensis, Digitaria decumbens and Panicum maximum (Ademosun 1974). However, in the mid 80s, anthracnose (Colletotrichum) wiped out stylo throughout Africa and these forages were largely replaced by other species.More legumes have been identified for fodder banks in semi-arid regions. These include Chamaecrista rotundifolia, Centrosema brasilianum, C. pascuorum, S. humilis and Aeschynomene histrix. (Tarawali and Ogunbile, 1995). Synge (1981) reported improved production responses in white Fulani cattle due to supplementary feeding under traditional management (Table 15). Creeping legumes, such as Calopogonium, Centrosema, Mucuna, and Pueraria, have attracted much research attention (Agboola and Fayemi 1971; Akobundu 1993; Tarawali and Ogunbile 1995).
Abayomi et al. (2001) carried out evaluation of selected legume cover crops for biomass production, dry season survival and soil fertility improvement in the southern Guinea savanna zone during the 1993-1996 cropping seasons. Field establishment, ground cover, above ground biomass production, and seed yields of the legume species were monitored during each cropping season. The majority of the legume species gave satisfactory ground cover, biomass production, and N contribution to the succeeding non-legume crop. Using the rank summation index, the order of adaptation of the legume species to the study location on the basis of their ground cover, biomass production, seed yield, dry season survival and N contribution to the soil was as follows: Cajanus cajan > Aeschynomene histrix > Stylosanthes guianensis > S. scabra > Crotalaria ochroleuca > C. verrucosa >Clitorea ternatea > S. hamata > Pseudovigna argentea > Centrosema pascuorum > Pueraria phaseoloides > Lablab purpureus > Psophocarpus palustris > Chamaecrista rotundifolia > Macroptilium atropurpureum.
Farmers who rely on burning to clear land in the forest zone have not adopted such legumes, as they do not suit their farming system. In mechanized systems in the savanna zone, where soil erosion and physical degradation pose a serious threat to system sustainability and where cattle have to be fed during the dry season (Hoefsloot et al. 1993), forage legumes may provide an acceptable alternative to weedy fallows.
The production of quality fodder would permit the introduction of more productive crossbred animals into pastoral herds. Cropping within fodder banks is becoming an important issue because it is necessary to permit the accumulation of nitrogen and structure in the soil which requires some years. It is also essential, however, that the farmers who own the land benefit from permitting the use of their fallow land for forage production (Mohammed-Saleem, 1983). This is probably the key issue in promoting integrated crop/livestock systems where the livestock and land are owned by different people. Since the fodder banks average about 4 hectares and crop plots are usually less than a hectare it should be possible to rotate the crops within the fodder banks every 4 to 5 years (ILCA, 1979).
Also the evaluation of the mineral and trace element status of the local soils should provide data for further increases in dry matter production. At yields of around 5 tons/ha, however, 4 ha fodder banks will adequately supplement the nutrition of the 20 or so milking cows found in typical sedentary agro-pastoral herds. Indications are that fodder banks should be worthwhile investments provided that farmers do not reclaim them for farming in less than five years (FAO, 1983).
Some farmers and agropastoralists have successfully established leguminous pastures as fodder banks and in cropped areas as fallows. Research/demonstration work in the northern states of Nigeria has shown that herds with access to Stylosanthes supplementation increased in size compared to those that grazed natural pasture (Tarawali, 1991). Legume supplementation gives savanna farmers several advantages (Aguwuna,1983). They provide more lasting protective cover for soil than mulch, reduce the need for nitrate fertilizer and improve the quality of grazing land and provide high protein forage to complement the low quality natural pasture (Tarawali and Ogunbile, 1995).
Work with agropastoralists in northern Nigeria has shown that herds with access to Stylosanthes supplementation increased in size by 20% compared to cattle that were grazed on natural pasture(Boubacar Hussane, unpublished data). Conditions in Mali, Niger and Cameroon support higher herbage productivity and legume component. Performance should be even better and the new promising legumematerial with higher crude protein values should carry more animals for slaughter. Milk yields will also increase, providing more cash for women who control the dairy sector in traditional households in northern Nigeria. Crops such as maize, sorghum, millet and soybean in areas preceded by leguminous pastures produced more grain than after natural vegetation and in some cases the yield was double. Maize appeared to be the most responsive crop. For cereals such as sorghum and millet with very low nitrogen demands, reasonable yields were achieved within Stylosanthes pastures without applying any nitrogenous fertilizer (Tarawali and Ogunbile, 1995).
Leguminous browse and multipurpose trees
Browse legumes are shrubs and trees that are of considerable nutritional importance as livestock feed during the dry season of the year. Their leaves are green all year round and many are well known to herdsmen who frequently cut down their branches for stock feeding. Most nomads and smallholders know them and therefore use them for their livestock (Aregheore, 1996; Onwuka et al. 1992; Carew et al. 1980). The fruits of some form an important feed resource during the dry season. Many browses contain high levels of essential elements such as calcium, sodium and sulphur as well as critical micronutrients such as iron and zinc which have been shown to be deficient or borderline for productive purposes in many grass species (Olubajo, 1974). In long-term studies that were designed to evaluate the effects of browse supplementation on the productivity of sheep (Reynolds and Adediran, 1987) and goats (Reynolds, 1989), pregnant ewes and does maintained on a basal diet of Panicum maximum were supplemented with graded levels of a 1:1 (w/w) mixture of Gliricidia sepium and Leucaena leucocephala over two reproductive cycles. Supplementation with browse increased growth rate to weaning of both kids and lambs by 45 %. Direct supplementation to kids and lambs doubled growth rate from birth to six months in both species. Also browse supplementation increased overall daily dry matter intake by the dams during the final two months of pregnancy and four months of lactation (Smith, 1992).
Browse legumes are found from north to south; and west to east in Nigeria. Examples are Leucaena leucocephala, Gliricidia sepium, Acacia spp. (A. albida, A. nilotica), Albizia, Ficus elasticoides, Mangifera indica, Musa sp., Spondias mombin, Cajanus cajan, Tamarindus indica, and Parkia clappertonian, to mention but a few. Leucaena is widely accepted as the best browse legume and has naturalized in some parts of Nigeria.
Leucaena and Gliricidia foliage yields are higher in the wet season (Aregheore, 1995; Balogun and Otchere, 1995). Their leaves provide protein-rich supplements to traditional village diets to increase small ruminant productivity (Jabbar et al. 1977). Dry matter digestibility (DMD) of Gliricidia as a sole feed was found to be 54 – 57 %, while the addition of cassava tubers (Ademosun et al. 1985a) or cassava peel (Ifut, 1987) raised DMD to 70 - 74 %. In a Panicum maximum plus Gliricidia diet, DMD fell as a proportion of Panicum in the diet increased (Ademosun, et al., 1985 a, b, and Ifut 1987). For a combination of Panicum, Gliricidia and cassava peel, DMD tended to increase as the level of consumption of cassava peel increased (Ifut, 1987). The presence of a fermentable energy source in the diet allows high nitrogen feed such as Gliricidia and Leucaena to be utilized more efficiently (ARC, 1980). Based on these experiences a small amount of sun-dried cassava peel (about 50 g/day) would be ideal as a supplement (Jabbar, et al. 1997).
Bamikole et al., (2003) evaluated the feeding value of Ficus religiosa (FR) with West African Dwarf goats by feeding FR with Panicum maximum (PM) at different ratios of 0:100 (i.e. solely PM) 25:75; 50:50, 75:25 (which were mixtures of forages) and 100:0 (solely FR) in a 105 day trial during which intake, weight gain, digestibility and nitrogen utilization were monitored. Results demonstrated that feed intake, weight gain, digestibility and N utilization can be enhanced by feeding FR in mixture with PM and it can be used in diet mixtures up to 75 % of DM fed. Yahaya et al., (2001) evaluated the nutritive value of three browse trees (Ficus polita, F. sycomorus and Acacia sieberiana) with sheep on dry matter and crude protein digestibility; and degradability of neutral detergent fibre and Acid detergent fibre. Results of the investigation demonstrated that Acacia sieberiana, F. polita and F. sycomorus can sustain sheep on a maintenance diet and could also be used as a supplementary feed during the dry season.
Development of Aquatic resources
Supplementation of crop residues and agro-industrial
by-products with forage
Adebowale (1992) reported the results of a trial in which 20 White Fulani steers were fed ad libitum on treated and untreated maize cobs (chopped) with fresh Siam weed (2 kg/head/day). Live-weight improved from a daily loss of 320 g, when animals were fed untreated maize cobs, to a daily gain of about 480 g, when cobs were treated and supplemented with Siam weed. When Gliricidia foliage was supplemented to about 15 percent of the DMI of White Fulani cows on a diet of maize husk, the milk yield increased by about 22.5 percent. However, when maize husk was ensiled with 6 percent urea for ten days, the milk yield increased by 42 percent with Gliricidia foliage and 29 percent without it (Table 16). When maize husk and bran supplemented with Leucaena foliage were fed to West African Djallonke goats for 12 weeks, animals reacted better to maize bran than to maize husks. This confirms that maize bran is better degraded in the rumen than maize husks. However, these two maize residues are either expensive or cumbersome to procure, especially for feeding large animals (Adebowale, 1992).
Alhassan (1985a & b) in a comparative study of maize residues with other crop residues fed Red Sokoto goats with various cereal or legume residues and found that dry matter intake (DMI) ranged from 0.7 percent of body weight for maize stover to 2 percent for sorghum leaves, while legume crop residues intake ranged from 0.8 percent for cowpea vines to 3.4 percent for groundnut haulms. When feeding maize residues was compared with other cereal or legume crops, it was found that liveweight gain compared favourably. Highest feed consumption was recorded for the maize residue, although this was not significantly higher than the sugar-cane tops. However, this high consumption did not produce better liveweight gain, except with sorghum stalks.
ILCA (1979) tested supplementary feeding with the most easily obtainable agro-industrial by-product, cottonseed cake. The yield responses recorded by Synge (1981) in Table 15were obtained by supplementing cows with feed containing 41 percent crude protein fed at the rate of 1 kg/head/ day for five months (December to April) during the dry season. The mean calving rate in supplemented herds rose from 33 percent to 77 percent while that in control herds was never more than 40 percent. Feeding all the animals 1 kg/head/day gave a return of 132 kg milk/1 000 kg cottonseed cake; if only the breeding females were fed the return was 455 kg milk/1000 kg cottonseed cake. The ILCA's preliminary figures correspond closely with Synge’s (1981) results with the additional observation that the break-even curve for cottonseed cake to milk off take is very steep. Thus a small increase in feed prices requires a large increase in milk prices to retain profitability, but this does not take into account the value of the extra calves (FAO, 1983).
Research has been carried out over the years in Nigeria to improve pastures in the savannas which contain about 80 % of the population of grazing ruminant livestock. The development of grazing reserves for livestock was highlighted in the third National Development Plan and a number of areas were designated as cattle settlement areas in the 19 northern states (Agwuna, 1983). However, there are flaws in grazing reserves and group ranches. Despite the inclusion of grazing reserves and group ranches in official plans, demarcating large pieces of land for the exclusive use of pastoralists is fraught by competing land claims. The case for the establishment of grazing reserves has not been helped by the failure to plan them in the context of total land use systems. Grazing reserve and group ranch plans typically envisage self-contained, year-round grazing systems and result in the allocation of large areas of land to a few people (FAO, 1983).
Future research to improve pasture in Nigeria should focus on soil conservation and management through the use of legumes instead of mulching with straw. Survey of indigenous legumes (browse/multipurpose trees) – to identify those that are more suitable for particular agro-ecological zones, methods of establishment, fertilizer use, seed production – that involves field establishment and weed control (manual, mechanical and chemical methods;); management practices; harvesting methods, storage quality determination should be undertaken. The present poor system of livestock production of the majority of herd/flock owners however, should not be a deterrent to exploring future possibilities. In this context, therefore, one could stress the need to increase farmers’ awareness of the benefits of legume-based technology through increased farmer participatory activities, adequate training of extension officers/agents as an integrated part of the forage-legume production system.
Government policies and programmes to assist livestock farmers and the millions of people engaged in livestock enterprise need to take cognisance of the following (Nuru, 1996):
In conclusion, government assistance through research and the development of specialist skills in range management, pasture agronomy and management, and animal science, would be of significant importance to ensure future economic growth and development in the livestock sector to enable Nigeria to meet the challenges of the future.
|7. RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
ORGANIZATIONS AND PERSONNEL
Animal Science Department, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria
Agronomy Department, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria
Animal Science Department, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Nigeria.
Department of Animal Science, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria.
Department of Animal Science, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria.
Department of Pasture and Range Management, University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria.
Department of Animal Production, University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria.
Department of Animal Science, Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike, Umahia, Nigeria.
Department of Animal of Animal Science, University of Agriculture, Makurdi, Nigeria.
Ministry: Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Director, Livestock Division, Abuja, Nigeria.
National Animal Production Research Institute (NAPRI), Ahmadu Bello University Shika, Zaria, Nigeria.
Institute for Agricultural Research and Training (IAR&T), Moor Plantation, Ibadan, Nigeria.
Contacts for information on pasture and fodder production and management
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[This profile was completed by the author in May/June 2005 and was edited by J.M. Suttie and S.G. Reynolds in June/July and September 2005, livestock data were slightly adjusted in August 2006 and the profile was slightly edited in January 2009 by S.G. Reynolds].