The Minister of agriculture and Rural Development in Nigeria Mr. Audu Ogbeh have commenced the distribution of farm equipment aimed at easing farmers burden and also gradually bring an end to farmer-herders’ clashes in the country.
Speaking during the presentation of the equipment to youth cooperatives in Oja village, Okpomaju in Otukpo Local Government Area of Benue State, North Central Nigeria, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Mr. Audu Ogbeh said the idea is to use agricultural waste to feed cattle which will keep herdsmen away from farms.
The equipment includes Reapers, (which is used for harvesting rice) Threshers, pre-cleaners and cattle feed milling machines which will grind and mix residues from agricultural waste for cattle feed.
Holding negotiation and peace meetings with farmers, herders and their traditional rulers alone according to the Minister will not solve the problem of incessant clashes in the country but a visible workable solution.
And one of the solutions is to restrict the movements of cattle from one end of the country to another by using agricultural waste from rice, maize, sorghum etc to provide feed for them.
“You are here to see the plans we have to use agricultural waste to feed cattle and larger ruminants, ordinarily farmers harvest their rice, maize, sorghum and millet and burn the residue now we have decided that we are going to use this residue to feed cattle and in the process eliminate this conflicts which goes on and on and for which there seems to be no solution.”
“There have been seminars; workshop and sensitization and conversing traditional leaders, this alone will not solve the problem, what will solve the problem is to find feed for cattle, find them water away from farmers efforts on farms so that there will be no fight.”
Mr Ogbeh said now that the harvest is beginning, between now and the end of the year we would have harvested quite a lot of residue that will provide enough food for the cattle in different part of the country so we minimize, if we do not succeed this year in eliminating the conflicts completely.
The distribution of the equipment Mr. Ogbeh said will cut across the entire country starting with Otukpo in Benue state.
According to the Minister the benefiting youths who are called “handy harvesters” are in cooperatives and the machines are given to them on credit at a discounted rate to help turn around their fortune financially.
He added that commencing the distribution of farm equipment in a remote village like Oja, Okpomaju is in line with the Agric Ministry’s duty of taking live to the rural areas thereby boosting the economic potentials of the rural area.
The youth leader of Okpomaju, Agaba Inalegwu, appreciated the Ocho’Otukpo Chief John Eimonye the traditional ruler of Otukpo reaching out and drawing the attention of the Federal Government to the plight of youth farmers in the area.
Inalegwu said the youth are ready and willing to farm and they have abundant farmlands but lack modern farming implement which makes farming unattractive to some of them adding that those of them that engage in agriculture do it at subsistent level for feeding alone and not for commercial purposes.
He noted that with support such as this from the federal government the youth will be encouraged and motivated to take up farming again and make money from it.
Inalegwu further pleaded with the Minister to use his federal might to ease the suffering of farmers in the area by fixing the access roads leading to and fro the farms as they (Farmers) find it difficult to get to their farms or transport farm produce to the markets.