The Nigerian Government has called for a collective sub-regional solution to tackle the problem of cattle movement, which has resulted in violence between farmers and herdsmen across West Africa.
The country’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh made this call in Abuja, during his meeting with a delegation from the World Bank led by the Vice President Africa Region, Mr. Mukhtar Diop.
Chief Ogbeh called on Ministers of Agriculture in the West Africa sub-region to work together to proffer solutions to the myriad of problems facing agricultural production.
He stressed that “we could have a beautiful future in Africa, if we organize ourselves very well”.
The Minister explained that the issue of cattle grazing in livestock production had posed serious problems to West African countries, stating that the attention of the governments had mainly focused on some segments of farmers such as rice, cotton, soya bean farmers.
“Nobody had remembered to do anything for the cattle farmers who now resorted to self- help that often leads to violence. ”
He added that cattle roaming usually depletes their nutrients, thereby reducing the quality and quantity of milk and meat produced.
Chief Ogbeh also expressed concern over the population growth in the West African sub-region with a high number of unemployed youths, and advocated the need for African countries to deal with the issue, saying that there was no proper attention to the plight of youths in the past.
Chief Ogbeh commended the World Bank for their support for the country in many areas including agriculture over the years and solicited for more,particularly in livestock production.
He expressed the urgent need for the World Bank to support West African countries to solve the problem of cattle grazing, saying that “it is time for West Africa to stop cattle roaming so that the production of milk will rise while the Fulani herdsmen will live normal life”.
The Minister also sought for support from the World Bank in the Agricultural Value Chain, packaging and standardization of agricultural produce, mechanization and seed quality among others.
He said there was a need for Nigeria to have an all- year- round farming practice by harvesting three crops of maize and two crops of rice annually in order to catch up with the needs of population growth which he put at 450 million by the year 2050.
He maintained that the Labour Intensive Family Enterprise (LIFE) of the Federal Government which is on course would create wealth and jobs to the rural youth and women as well as reduce rural-urban migration.
He explained that Agro Processing Mills would be established in local communities to cater for the needs of rural dwellers.
The Minister also disclosed that extension services centres would be open at every local government area in the country to educate and enlighten farmers on farming operations.
He posited that stronger partnership with the World Bank would help in policy support, programme development and implementation.
The Vice President, Africa Region of the World Bank, Mr. Mukhtar Diop who led the delegation said the team was in the Ministry to map out ways to assist Nigeria in moving agriculture to the next level.
The Vice President said his organization expressed the willingness of the World Bank to give necessary support to accelerate its growth.
He said the World Bank had developed and launched a regional project which covers countries like Chad, Niger, Mali, Senegal and Burkina Faso in Agriculture, adding that Chad had a grazing area that had been identified as a one-stop shop.
It has specific points of access to water, irrigation services, educational services and other services to support farmers.
Dr. Diop who said he was passionate about Agriculture, promised to work with Nigeria in areas of milk production; agricultural value chain, irrigation systems among others.