Bullish Markets How Technology Can Revolutionize Nigeria’s Livestock Industry

Technology can play an important role in transforming Nigeria’s livestock industry by improving productivity, efficiency, and sustainability. By leveraging innovative solutions, the technical, socioeconomic, and security problems prevalent in the livestock sector in Nigeria can be addressed, boosting the overall productivity and competitiveness of the sector.

Agriculture remains very important in Nigeria with 36 per cent of the nations labour force employed in the sector. This makes it the second-largest employer after the service sector. The livestock sub-sector is an integral part of food security and national development in Nigeria. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development estimates that the sub-sector contributes one-third of the 21 per cent of the GDP of the agricultural sector to the national economy. The livestock industry is vital to national development in three broad ways. Firstly, it is important to national food security. Livestock products such as meat, milk, and eggs are important protein sources for the Nigerian population. The livestock sector plays a critical role in meeting the countrys food security needs as well as improving soil fertility and nutrient cycling through manure production for the larger agricultural production system.

Secondly, the livestock sector is a significant source of employment in Nigeria, providing jobs for millions of people along the value chain, from animal rearing to processing and marketing of livestock products. 80 per cent of people employed in agriculture are involved in smallholder agriculture, including crop and pastoral agriculture. This also leads to revenue generation for pastoralists, particularly in rural areas where livestock farming is a major economic activity, and for the government through levies and taxes. Lastly, it has cultural and social relevance as livestock farming is deeply embedded in Nigerian culture, and it plays an important role in traditional practices and ceremonies in many communities. 


While the importance of this industry has been established, numerous challenges have persisted for decades. Livestock farming in Nigeria is still largely managed by smallholder pastoralists and households. More than 80 per cent of the total cattle population is kept by this demographic. Due to economic and technical constraints, there is poor farm management as pastoralists lack farm infrastructure and services and have little to no farm inventory and livestock data. Important data for the livestock industry includes milk yield, vaccination records, lactation records, weight gain, feed intake, and calving. The lack of collection, storage and analysis of these datasets continues to limit the sector.  

Current livestock data in Nigeria are usually not farmer-based, but estimates from researchers and government agencies, which limits accuracy and proper planning for development.  A baseline survey by the Livestock Productivity and Resilience Support program indicated that 77 per cent of farmers in 16 states and the Federal Capital Territory do not have farm records for livestock. Similarly, pastoralists still engage in archaic practices such as open grazing which is unsustainable and limits productivity.  

The past decade has seen a rise in farmer-herder clashes, especially in the Middle Belt region which is one of Nigeria’s important food production zones. Rapid population growth, urbanization and expansion of arable farmlands have encroached on old grazing reserves for pastoralists who are in search of pasture and water, especially in the dry seasons. Limited land, vegetative and water resources are fiercely contested by both parties. This issue is further exacerbated by the impact of climate change in Nigeria which is a driver of desertification, extreme weather effects, and dwindling water resources. Farmers and herders both bear the brunt of climate impacts with little capacity to adapt or improve resilience. A report by Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project revealed that Nigeria has lost 8,343 lives from 1,350 farmer-herder-related clashes between 2005 and 2021 with properties and livelihoods destroyed. 

Animal rustling also remains a prominent husbandry problem faced by herders who are raided by marauders, thereby losing their herd and means of livelihood. A 2023 study by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime has linked the surge in cattle rustling between 2011 and 2018 to organized crime and the illicit economy, which overlaps with arms trafficking, kidnapping for ransom, and terrorist financing. Zamfara, the state with the highest rate of rustling incidents, had over 377,245 livestock stolen between 2011 and 2019. Also, over N2.8 billion was paid in ransom and as well as related destruction of lives and properties as raiding is carried out through armed attacks on pastoral communities. There is also the challenge of low productivity and poor disease management. This is coupled with the lack of access and veterinary and extension services. The average weights of popular animals, including cattle, goats, sheep, and pigs are reported to be below the regional, continental, and global averages. This means the livestock sector is severely underperforming as Nigeria still imports livestock from neighbouring countries to meet local demand for its burgeoning population. 


Technology can play an important role in transforming Nigeria’s livestock industry by improving productivity, efficiency, and sustainability. By leveraging innovative solutions, the technical, socioeconomic, and security problems prevalent in the livestock sector in Nigeria can be addressed, boosting the overall productivity and competitiveness of the sector.  

The foundation for building a robust and advanced livestock industry starts with proper identity management and traceability. According to the National Animal Identification and Traceability System (NAITS) project, animal identification and traceability (ID&T) can redefine how livestock planning, management, and monitoring work in Nigeria. Leveraging tamperproof identifications (ear tags, microchips, or tattoos), digital livestock management systems (databases) and cloud/mobile-based apps can help farmers and processors track the movements and activities of animals throughout their life cycle, from birth to slaughter or death. ID&T systems are important for a variety of reasons, including food safety and disease control. This can also mitigate issues around animal rustling and aid the speedy recovery of rustled livestock. Digital tools such as farm management software and data analytics, built on ID&T registries such as NAITS, can be used to collect, analyse, and manage data on livestock production, enabling farmers to make informed decisions. Farmers can improve how they feed and groom animals and ensure proper vaccination when due, which will boost the efficiency and productivity of livestock production systems.  

The upside is that market access is enhanced and technology, such as blockchain, can be used to track livestock from farm to market, improving transparency and accountability in the supply chain. This also helps the regulators in tax collection and data-driven policy interventions. Farmers can also secure loans and investments as a result of verifiable and traceable real-time data being available to investors. 

There have been increased efforts to incorporate ranching into livestock practice in Nigeria. Technological solutions such as precision farming and remote monitoring can change current practices and make ranching productive. Precision livestock farming is the use of sensors, data analytics, and other technologies to monitor and manage individual animals and groups of animals. This can help farmers better manage farm operations, even at a larger scale. It also involves the use of automated systems that can accurately and efficiently distribute feed and water to livestock, reducing labour costs and ensuring consistent access to food and water.  

Remote monitoring technologies, such as cameras and sensors, can be used to monitor livestock and farm activities from a distance. This can help farmers detect and respond to issues in real time and reduce the need for physical inspections. The longstanding issue of farmer-herder clashes can be mitigated through traceability systems that use GPS tamper-proof tags and remote sensing. This can be used to monitor movement and detect erring herders who might intrude into lands outside the grazing reserves. Also, it can allow strategic migration as remote sensing apps can be used to monitor land use and vegetation cover, which can help identify areas suitable for grazing and reduce the risk of conflicts arising from overgrazing. Finally, tech can revolutionize the livestock value chain through the creation of value-added services. Robotics can improve the production and processing of dairy products, including milk, yoghurt, and cheese.  

Advanced processing can be used to improve the quality and safety of meat and dairy products. Packaging technologies can also help extend the shelf life of products and reduce food waste from farms and livestock zones. Tech can indeed play a role in addressing the current challenges of the livestock sector and spur the overall development of the industry

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