Job Osazuwa; Agaju Madugba, Katsina
The Federal Government yesterday unveiled plans to shop for N70billion for the establishment and management of pilot ranches in 10 states for the first three years.
The listed states are Adamawa, Benue, Ebonyi, Edo, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Oyo, Plateau, Taraba and Zamfara.
Benue State government, in reaction, however, said it has no land to give. According to the state government, Benue, being the food basket of the nation, does not even have enough land for cultivation of food produce let alone to give for ranches.
This was in response to the recommendations of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FEMARD) and the National Economic Council (NEC) livestock conference.
The Federal Government presented the plan in Abuja, to permanently solve the farmers-herders conflicts, which claimed thousands of lives over the years.
Hundreds of people were killed this year alone in violence involving nomadic herdsmen in states including Benue, Plateau and Kaduna.
Aside from the loss of lives, Federal Government said Nigeria loses about $14 billion (N5.04 trillion) annually to the conflicts.
The presentation, made by the technical adviser to NEC, Mr. Andrew Kwasari, was witnessed by public officials including the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh and Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State.
Kwasari’s presentation showed that the plan stemmed from meetings and recommendations by the FMARD and the NEC in 2017. The NEC is headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo with all state governors and some ministers as members.
The plan, tagged; “The National Livestock Transformation Plan,” was built on six key pillars.
They included economic investment, conflict resolution, law and order, humanitarian relief, information education and strategic communication as well as cross-cutting issues.
According to the plan, the economic investment pillar would support and strengthen the development of market-driven ranches in seven pilot states for improved livestock productivity through breed (genetic) improvement and pasture production, in addition to efficient land and water productivity.
The government also said it would rebuild social capital at the community level to promote mutual trust, confidence building and consolidate the peace process, with regards to the conflict resolution pillar.
The plan also showed that the law and order pillar would support the strengthening of legal frameworks for improving livestock production, peace and harmony.
The fourth pillar, humanitarian relief would focus on rebuilding and reconstructing of common facilities – worship places, markets and individual homes that have been destroyed.
The fifth pillar would aid information, education and strategic communication on the development of grazing reserves in the frontline states, and mitigate the consequences of the conflicts such as wanton loss of lives, destruction of properties, including schools and facilities.
The cross-cutting issues pillar identified various issues necessary to realise the objectives of the programme, which included monitoring and evaluation; and research to contribute evidence base on programme implementation; as well as gender mainstreaming.
The 10 identified states would receive pilot interventions in line with the recommendations and specifications in the plan.
The plan would include the creation of large ranches in each of these states.
“A ranch design plan has also been proposed in models of various sizes clustered in 94 locations in the 10 pilot states.
“The government intends to transition pastoralism to ranching in order to reduce the struggle for common resources,” Kwasari stated.
He said in terms of size, the proposed ranch size models are: “Cluster 30, 60, 150 and 300 cows ranch models in a location within the donated gazetted grazing reserves; and a minimum 1000 cows breeder ranch in seven of the 10 pilot states.”
The well-equipped ranches would, however, not come cheap.
He said, “total spending over the 10-year period is slightly in excess of N179 billion.
“FGN-states funding is meant for the first three years in the pilot phase, totalling about N70billion.”
Some of the benefits of the plan included “expected milk output to be in excess of 200million litres by the second year of the project (but the first year of productivity.
“Expected milk output of 700million litres of milk by the fourth year of the project.”
Ogbeh said: “We want to bring this crisis to an end. We will begin action in a matter of days.”
He said nomadic herding was not sustainable and Nigeria must adopt ranching.
He added that there has been a “strong partnership” between the federal and state governments; a view also espoused by Ortom whose state witnessed some of the most violent crises involving nomadic herdsmen.
He, however, argued that apart from implementing the new plan, the Federal Government must ensure that perpetrators of previous killings in the state were arrested and prosecuted.
Meanwhile, Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State said farmers should be held responsible for the widespread bloody clashes with herdsmen.
“It must be pointed out that the original grazing routes and grazing areas in many states of the federation have been encroached upon by people and this is one of the reasons herdsmen destroy peoples’ farms in search of food for their animals,” he said.
He spoke in a message he sent at the flag-off of the re-demarcation of cattle routes in the nine local government areas of the state.
He explained that the exercise would check the perennial conflicts between farmers and herdsmen, which he noted led to the loss of several lives and property.
Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. Mustapha Inuwa, represented Masari at Kukar Babangida, in Jibia Local Government.
The project involved the re-establishment of 7,240 beacons in a stretch of 905 kilometres of local and international livestock routes.
Masari regretted that encroachment into grazing areas began several years back and but that most states failed to take necessary actions to address the matter.
He said: “We are determined to ensure peace and unity between herdsmen and farmers.”
“Our main focus is to change the unhealthy relationship existing between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, thus bringing to an end the culture of bloody violence.”
“Katsina State is the first to initiate and implement the programme but this cannot be sustainable if we do not complement the effort of government by ensuring that no one violates the rules of the initiative.”
The governor urged traditional rulers in the affected local government areas to give the committee executing the project, adequate support to enable it to discharge its assignment. (The Sun)