The Hon Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has said that the Federal Government is grieved and seriously concerned on the fatal dimension that the issue of the Herders-Crop farmers crisis is taking and assured that the Federal Government will leave no stone unturned to solve the problem.
The Minister made the remarks on Wednesday while receiving the formal report of the National Livestock conference held on the 25th September, 2017 at the International Conference Centre, Abuja in which all key stakeholders in the Livestock sector participated.
According to the Minister, Government’s proposal to set up Cattle Colonies and encouragement of ranches remain the best option to stop the killings and the toxic hatred that the current altercation is generating; saying the wanton loss of lives is not acceptable, hence the need to take necessary steps that will permanently stop the killings, protect the farmers, as well as secure modern way of livelihood for the herdsmen. He also revealed that a Sensitization Programme to educate the herders, farmers and the communities including the politicians is underway.
“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”. He also refuted the allegation of sell out; warning that “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”
The Minister who praised the Committee for a good job has meanwhile announced that members of the Committee will play a major role in implementing the decision of the government after a quick study of the report. Other members of the Committee are Mr John Taiwo of the Departmentt of Animal Husbandry Services, Alhaji Auwal Maidabino of Planning and Policy Coordination, Mr Hammed Sanni of Food and Agricultural Organisation FAO, a representative of Kogi State Government and Engr. Kola Owolabi of the Federal Department of Agriculture of the Ministry.
Presenting the report to the Hon Minister, the Chairman of the Local Organising Committee, Dr Gideon Mshebwalla 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 as well as low level of extension facilities as being the major factors militating against optimal development of the sector.
The Committee recommended resuscitation of the grazing reserves, encouragement of private people to go into setting up ranches in addition to the Federal Government setting up of cattle colonies.
The Committee also wanted 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.