Nigeria to create ranches for herdsmen

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

The Nigerian government says it is considering the creation of ranches for cattle rearing across the country as part of the solution to incessant conflicts between herdsmen and farmers.

Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri made this known on Tuesday during a one day public hearing on a motion, on tackling the perennial conflicts between farmers and cattle herdsmen.

“As part of the solutions, we have consulted widely and also studied the literatures that exist in the sector. And we have realised that the best way to solve this problem will be the creation of ranches. If we create ranches we will provide what the Fulani man is looking for. 

The ranches will have all modern amenities so that the family of the herdsmen can also have the same opportunities that other Nigerians have. They will have opportunity to go to school, access to health facilities, agro-allied industries that may be clustered within these ranches. We believe that the creation of ranches will be one of the solutions that we will put on the table.

President Buhari has directed that we should liaise with state governments because the federal government alone cannot do it. And we have contacted 19 states governors and nine states have already donated 5,000 hectares each for us to start the creation of these ranches,” he said.

No importation of grass
In his submission to the Senate, the Minister clarified that the federal government has no plans to import grasses but would import grass seeds to be planted in Nigeria for the purpose of sustaining the proposed ranches.

Senator Lokpobiri also said other aspects of the solution being considered by the government include a reorientation programme for the herdsmen, so as to equip them with better information on the trends and modern day realities regarding cattle rearing.

“It is also important to point out that a lot of herdsmen are also killed. Most of the times when there are clashes between herdsmen and farmers, the casualty on the part of the herdsmen are most of the time not reported. Some kidnappers have resorted to kidnapping the children of the herdsmen who will resort to selling off their cattle to be able to pay ransom to secure their release.”

“There is this huge opportunity in this sector. We import for only milk powder alone we spend $1.3billion. For dairy products, milk products we may spend as much as $5billion a year. And this is an opportunity that if our herdsmen have the proper orientation, they can keep their cows, feed them well with grasses, provide water for them and get the same between 30 to 40 litres per milk a day and this $5billion will be within the economy of Nigeria,” he suggested.

A representative of the herdsmen association, Mohammed Tukur advocated for the establishment of a ministry to be responsible for the development of livestock and payment of compensation to herdsmen who lose their cattle to rustlers in various communities across Nigeria.

There were also presentations by representatives of the security agencies including the Military, Police, Civil Defence Corps and Department of State Security.

The public hearing was organized by the Senate joint committee on Agriculture and Rural development and National Security and Intelligence.