The Federal Government of Nigeria has restated its determination to establish the controversial cattle colonies as part of measures to end the persistent crisis between farmers and pastoralists.
According to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, while receiving the formal report of the National Livestock conference, held on 25th September 2017 at his office in Abuja, said federal government’s proposal to set up cattle colonies and ranches remain the best option.
In attendance at the conference held at the International Conference Centre were Commissioners for Agriculture from the 36 states and their representatives among other key stakeholders in the livestock sector.
Ogbeh described the initiative as capable of permanently checkmating the wanton killings, hatred and attacks between the herdsmen and farmers.
He expressed grief and serious concern on fatal dimension the issue is taking with assurance to solving the problem.
“We have listened to what people have said and we recognize people’s rights to freedom of expression: but let me reiterate once again that the government is not seizing land of any Nigerian to give to Fulani herdsmen for them to colonize. The Programme is also not an appeasement of Fulanis at the detriment of crop farmers either. If today, we as Government and citizens don’t find a practical solution to the problem as quickly as possible, it will get worse tomorrow.
“We didn’t envisage how much high voltage emotion and politicking this issue has generated. It is one of our characteristics as a country that we live with. We needed to educate the herdsmen, educate every one of us of the need to move away from what we were doing before that is bringing conflict for many reasons; avoiding crisis and making this industry more productive.
“I know that the average herdsman is more concerned about the number of his herds than perhaps the milk coming out, about the speed the cattle can grow and the value of the meat, which is why he needs education. More than this, we also have the leaders, the politicians; we all need education on this,” he said.
In a statement issued by the ministry’s Director of Information, Tolu Makinde, the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee, Dr. Gideon Mshebwalla, while presenting the report to the minister said the committee identified lack of access to land, low productivity, old practice of open grazing, lack of access to finance, inadequate water provision, inefficient landholding, poor infrastructure and support facilities including low level of extension facilities as being the major factors militating against optimal development of the sector.
The committee further recommended resuscitation of the grazing reserves, encouragement of private people to go into setting up ranches in addition to the federal government idea to setup cattle colonies.
The committee urged federal government to intervene in the provision of infrastructures and support services like roads, electricity, water, improved pasture and provision of extension services as well as empowering the Agricultural Research Institutes to invest on research that will be accessible to the end users.
Ogbeh, who lauded the committee for the job well done, announced that the committee will play a major role in implementing the decision of the government.
Other members of the committee includes Mr. John Taiwo of the Dept of Animal Husbandry Services, Alhaji Auwal Maidabino of Planning and Policy Coordination, Food and Agriculture Organisation representative, Mr. Hammed Sanni, a representative of Kogi State Government and Engr. Kola Owolabi of the Federal Department of Agriculture of the Ministry.
The Minister revealed that a Sensitization Programme to educate the herders, farmers and the communities including the politicians is underway.