To Spare Buildings, Infrastructure Of Public Utility
There seems to be no going back on the Federal Government’s stance on recovering grazing routes across the country, as it has been exclusively gathered that efforts have commenced to retrace about 415 grazing routes along the grazing reserves.
Based on information privy to The Guardian, only buildings and infrastructure that are of public importance will be spared in the exercise.
The Acting Director, Animal Husbandry Services, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Winnie Lai-Solarin, who disclosed that most of the grazing routes have been encroached, said government will put into consideration if infrastructure on the routes are of public benefits like universities, general hospitals and others, but if otherwise, they would be retrieved back.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari recently approved the return to open grazing practiced during the first republic where herdsmen used designated grazing routes to move cattle to other states.
In furtherance of this, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono revealed that about 19 grazing reserves with an approximately 400,000 hectares of land in 10 states have already been earmarked for the pilot phase for the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), The 10 states are Taraba, Adamawa, Benue, Plateau, Nassarawa, Zamfara, Kaduna, Gombe, Kebbi and Oyo.
The minister said about 22 states and the Federal Capital Territory had subscribed to the NLTP programme, noting that when fully implemented, it will bring to an end the incessant clashes between the farmers and herdsmen, and it will at the same time introduces the herders to modern way of raising their cattle.
While ruling out plans of carving-out new grazing routes, Lai-Solarin said it has become necessary to retrace back all the grazing routes because of the ongoing massive development of the grazing reserves, adding that it would be important to create routes for the cattle to come into the reserves.
“We are not creating any stock route, there is primary and secondary stock routes, but most of them have been encroached upon, we are not establishing new ones, but the existing grazing reserves will be retraced, especially for those one still available. Most of the stock routes lead to the grazing reserves.
“So, with the development of the grazing reserves, the grazing routes that have been encroached will be retraced or if the encroachment is for public good like universities will be left, but for places where there are encroachment that are not for public goods, the route will be retraced for easy movement of the cattle,” she said.
Lai-Solarin confirmed that the Federal Government is starting the development of the grazing reserves in 10 states with plans to extend to other states when it becomes necessary, noting that the aim is to have at least one grazing reserve in each states of the federation.
She disclosed that there is already massive development of grazing reserves in Niger State, just as Katchia and Ladiga grazing reserves are also being developed.
The Acting Director also confirmed that work has started in Wawa-Zange grazing reserve, Gombe State, disclosing that government has put in place both the veterinary and human clinics, with the development of the earth dams for livestock and pasture’s usage.
She said for the current year, they would put in place milk collection centres and borehole to service all the facilities, as water is a big challenge in the state.
The Acting Director further noted that the state government has also set up a committee to manage the grazing reserves through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
It should be noted that grazing reserves development is one of the arms of the National Transformation Plan of the livestock industry. Other transformation programme includes the National Dairy Programme, where herders come into the grazing reserves; there is National Breed Improvement Programme and the National Pasture Programme. This is because improved milk production is dependent on availability of pasture and water.
The ultimate goal of the Federal Government, based on information is to encourage pastoralists to move from the extensive practice to the semi-intensive practice that would enable them have improved breed, more yields, thereby improve their productivity.
Lai-Solarin said: “I want to remind us that we didn’t get here in one day, it’s going be a long term thing, so we are asking for patience. The livestock industry has suffered neglect for the past 40 years, look at where we are coming from and the time it took us, but we are steadily moving with the support of the President and the minister. We are moving and we are moving fast.”
She said the ministry is collaborating with the Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and all other pastoral groups, to ensure government is reaching the right people, so that sustainability is assured. “If the association can be collaborating with us in capacity building on the use of the facilities we have put in place and linking the livestock farmers to the market, then it is okay,” she stated.