Effects of Meat Consumption on Climate Change in Nigeria,What needs to change.

By Mike Odeh James


Meat is consumed every day in Nigeria and by every member of the family in the country. Though there is no official statistics of individual family members of Nigerians who consumes meat but, is assumed that nearly all Nigerians except the extremely poor eat meat at least thrice a day.
Meat is the common term used to define the edible portion of slaughtered and process (animals) livestock such as goast, cows, pigs, birds, camels and many others.According to an official census of livestock in Nigeria, by the National Agricultural Sample Survey, Nigeria is endowed with the
following number of livestock.
– 19.5 million Cows
– 72.5 Million goats
– 41.1 Million sheep
– 7.1 Million pigs
– 145 million chickens
– 11.6 million ducks
– 1.2 Million Turkeys
– 974,499 donkeys
– 28,000 camels
Total 15552.1999.
Meaning Nigeria has over one hundred and fifteen million livestock.This means that Nigeria with a population of about 200 million is endowed with close to over 15 million livestock that are being reared and would be eventually slaughtered and processed for consumption.
Despite the huge number of livestock that Nigeria has, the meat consumption in Nigeria hugely overshadows or belittles the numbers of animals Nigeria has.
Nigeria’s minister of Agriculture Audu Ogbe released the statistics of Nigeria’s meat consumption as :
Lagos consumes – 6000 cows per day ,Other parts of parts of Nigeria 80000 to 90,000 per day
According to research made by African Climate Reporters, the numbers of goats slaughtered and consumed daily doubles the stated statistics given for cows. The goats slaughtered every day are equal 240,000. All these combined means Nigerians consumes close to a million cows,sheep and goats monthly .None-the-less, Audu Ogbe, Nigeria’s Minister for Agriculture insisted that Nigeria’s appetite for meat is growing and the country needs to import or allow cattle from neighboring
countries in to the country.
Implication of Meat consumption in Nigeria on climate change is hugely negative in the sense that about 200 million livestock are reared for meat consumption, and 1940000 livestock slaughtered every day for consumption in Nigeria.
According to research undertaken by African climate Reporters, Nigeria burns 2 000,000 automobile tires every month ( in the various slaughterhouses/ Abattoirs) to process the skins of slaughtered
livestock into another Form of delicacy called Kpomo.
This is a very huge environmentally hazardous practice.
Firstly, the tire burnt emits black fumes which contains heavy oily metals, cyanide ,carbon mono oxide ,butadiene and other chemical substances which are harmful to the atmosphere, and further compounds the destruction of the ozone layer.
Many researches showed that burning of tires have led to loss of atmospheric biodiversity, compounded the already high rate of environmental pollution in Nigeria
Another effect of this environment pollution is the increasing health hazards to Nigeria which include cough, Asthma, irritation to the eyes, chest pain, high blood pressure and adverse pressure liver, and kidney and can cause cardiac arrest
Secondly, the burning of one million tires releases over 55000 gallons of toxic oil which either seeps in to the soil of the nearby water canals or sinks into the soil thereby destroying all the aquatic
marines and plants .A visit to Nigeria’s numerous abattoirs would reveal charred of burnt tires mixed with water and oil running off around the floor of the abattoirs. This mixtures eventually flows into
the nearby water canal others seeps into the soil
Finally ,on the aspect of abattoir,the biggest pollutant of the atmosphere today apart from the oil industry is the meat industry which burns over 2 000 000 tires a month destroying the ozone layer
and affecting negatively the climate of Nigeria.
Another important aspect of meat consumption that impacts negatively to the climate of Nigeria is the huge deforestation which has taken place and is taking place under the guise of livestock rearing.
According to Ismail Iro PhD,in 1964 ,the government of Northern Region Under Ahmadu Bello earmarked 6.4 million hectares of virgin land for cattle grazing reserves in Sokoto, Zamfara, Zaria ,Bauchi, Katsina and Illorin .
In 1980, 2 million hectares of lands were appropriated for the purpose of grazing reserves. Again these lands were virgin forest before they were appropriated as grazing reserves
All together a total of 8.4 million hectares of lands in the Northern Nigeria has been deforested for meat production similarly a good number of hectares of lands were destroyed for livestock farming in the South and the Middle Belt of the country.this between 1960-1980.Now ,the level of deforestation have increased triple hence we have of an estimated 25.2 million hectares of land lost to deforestation
Large-scale deforestation in the name of grazing reserves in Nigeria has led to an increase in the temperature of the country .As it is today, research has shown that Nigeria is getting hotter
than neighboring countries .Furthermore, the volume of carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere has increased , thereby making it more prone to global warming , flashfloods ,drought and desertification .
It should be not forgotten or it should be noted that northern states like Zamfara,Kano,Sokoto ,Katsina ,Bauchi ,Gombe ,Kebbi,Borno and Yobe where cattle rearing and grazing are more pronounced are the same states that have experienced high temperature ,low rainfall
and desertification
Importance of trees and other vegetation to the climate in Nigeria.
Trees contribute to the environment of Nigeria especially Northern Nigeria by improving and filtering the carbon dioxide we emit into the atmosphere. According to Dr Fatima Bukar Biu of Animal Science Institute Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, ,one acre of trees absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and gives out four tons of oxygen. She stated further that shrubs and turfs absorbs pollutants like carbon monoxide ,sulfur dioxide from going to the atmosphere..Tress also help to reduce the intensity of greenhouse effects by maintaining low levels of carbon dioxide.
Thus cutting down trees and burning of bushes allows sulfur dioxides and carbon dioxide to move en-mass to the atmosphere
Thus the consumption of meat in Nigeria ,has led the government to destroy over 25 .2 million hectares of land just to rear livestock between the 60s and the 80s.This greatly contributed to global warming and deforestation .
The process of bush burning during the clearing of forest further help to increase stress in in the atmosphere ,leading to further warming of Nigeria
Lastly forests and tress help to bind the soil and prevent desertification and soil erosion.All these have been altered by the huge deforestation going on in Nigeria under the guise of meat.
Again, animal rearing is a major source of conflict between farmers and the cattle roarers.This also has its indirect effects on climate via constant burning houses and properties of the two sides and
relocation of affected settlements which leads to clearing trees and more emission toxicity to the atmosphere.
Though cattle rearing or grazing has contribute immensely to climate change in Nigeria, poultry activities like manure disposal ,disposal of mortality, ammonia releases , methane CH4 produced by microbial activities ,nitro oxide biomass and nitrogenous organic fertilizers
have in some ways contributed to climate change negatively in the country.
Another huge and impact of meat consumption to climate change is the huge emission of green house gases by animals reared for consumption in Nigeria..Researches has shown that that a cow releases and averages of 70kg to 120 kg of methane per year. Methane is a green house gas
like carbon dioxide but the negative effects of methane on the environment is 23 higher than carbon dioxide,
In Nigeria, there are about 19.5 million cows, each discharging about 100 kg of methane this would roughly amount 200 000 000 000 methane emitted as greenhouse gas via the rearing of livestock for human consumption. This is more than the carbon dioxides the whole cars in Nigeria would emit in a 3 years
Therefore the greenhouse gas emission of livestock also helps to contribute to global warming, poisoning of the atmosphere is as high as many do not understand.
Dr Fatima Bukar Biu also posited that since Lake Tchad was inhabited by over 17 million people is receding ,therefore is now over 10 million persons including herdsmen are moving towards the Guinea Savannah region of the Middle Belt and putting more pressure of the already depleted forest resources in the Savannah Belt which further heightens the climate change .Furthermore , Fatima also posited the the migration would take its toils of on the livestock resulting in diseases and mortality .
These are what needs to change if we have to take back Nigeria from the effects of global warming
Stop deforestation in in forms of grazing reserves ,cattle routes and stop allocating huge hectares of and for poultry
The government needs to modernize the slaughter houses in Nigeria .It should stop the use of tires to roast animal skins ,rather ,biogas and clean energy should be used. For instances ,the cattle dung ,urine from other livestock should be for the interim converted into biogas
and used to roast animal skins If this is done over 2 million tires that are burnt monthly would be
drastically reduced.
The federal and state governments should also put in place, mechanism would stop appropriating land and the deforestation of lands under the guise of grazing reserves. The European model of cattle ranch which allows for a small piece of land be harnessed for cattle breading should be practiced.Under this system ,livestock are penned down in small area and are not
allowed to graze but rather fed.
We should change our eating habits ,eat less of meat and switch to vegetables and plants
It is not going to be easy to switch from rearing of cows, goats, sheep, pigs and poultry farming to which are known for huge scale greenhouse emission and release of harmful substances to the
atmosphere and are also responsible.
However, there are certain alternatives that are available to Nigeria for a long time
1.Snail farming is considered to be one of the most environmentally friend form of animal rearing ,it is cheaply amd does not occupy huge space or hectares of land neither does it emit poisonous gas .Smalling farming is not injurious to the environment or man.It has more protein
than animal feed.Thus there is need for Nigerians to eat more of snail meat and less of meats from livestock
2 Mushroom is another delicacy that is rich in protein and could serve as an alternative to meat .More so, it is very cheap to farm and less hazardous to the climate .Besides, Mushrooms tastes like meat.
Other ways with which Nigeria can substitute is the use of egusi which is also very rich in protein .Egusi can be moulded into balls which isthen cooked and used as substitute for meat In Idomaland , most families use egusi in their meals instead of meat.
Lastly, there should be massively education of students in all the various segments of Nigeria ranging from the primary school the tertiary institutions about the cause ,the negative influences and
prevention of climate change .
The government needs to spent huge amount of money in reafforestation and and building a green wall while prosecuting people who are into deforestation.
Conclusively the effects of meat consumption on the climate in Nigeria includes the huge emission of dangerous substances into the atmosphere by the burning of tires in abattoirs in Nigeria, increased emission of greenhouse gas by livestock especially cows ,environmental pollution poultry ,water and air pollution’s as well.
Similarly the cutting down of trees and destruction of vegetation for animal rearing has also altered negatively the composition and balance of nature .The government should legislate bush burning and deforestation in the name of grazing reserves.
However, if the federal government truly embarks on sensitization of the populace against certain attitude of Nigerian the situation maybe ameliorated.

  1. Mike Odeh James is also a writer on  climate change
Facebook Comments

About the Author

Mike Odeh James
Michael Odeh Akatu James He is currently the Bureau Chief of Kaduna News online and covers the North West as correspondent for the same outfit. Follow him on Twitter @MikeOdehJames1