Cattle Colonies: Kogi State has made history by becoming the first among the 36 states of the federation to establish a cattle colony to assist Fulani herdsmen in rearing their cows.
The federal government had in January resolved to set up cattle colonies across the country in a bid to find a permanent solution to farmers/herders clashes.
Explaining why Kogi is the first state to key into the federal government’s initiative, the state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, said the pioneer ranching project would expedite capital inflow to the tune of N5 billion in the next two months of its commencement.
Bello disclosed this yesterday in Lokoja while addressing journalists on the need to create more awareness and enlightenment on the economic benefits accruable from cattle ranching.
According to him, the project is capable of making the state the food basket of the nation, especially in the area of milk production.
The governor who is poised to leverage on the ranching project to boost the economic base of Kogi State revealed that no fewer than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs would be created just as cottage industries such as diary, meat processing factories would thrive in the state.
“Apart from making us to live harmoniously with each other, Kogi in no distant time would become an economic hub for livestock activities through modern cattle ranching which has the potential to attract both local and international investors”, Bello stated.
He called on well meaning Nigerians and Kogites to live above political sentiments and embrace the innovative way of cattle rearing, which has long term comparative advantage to over dependence on crude oil exploitation. The governor noted that when operational in the state, there would be enhancement of security in the area, just as social and infrastructural development of the area would be quickened by attendant inevitable economic activities.
Earlier, the state commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Kehinde Oloruntoba, disclosed that about 10,000 and 5,000 hectares of land have been marked in Ajaokuta and Adavi local government areas of the state for the establishment of the pioneer cattle ranching project in the state.
Oloruntoba assured that the project will go a long way in boosting the agricultural activities of the state, adding that the issue of herdsmen/farmers crises would be permanently solved in the state.
Aside organic fertiliser plant manufacturing and economic trees planting, Oloruntoba expressed optimism that the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) would be boosted tremendously to prevent over dependence on the dwindling revenue from the federation account.
Apart from having adequate water and pasture for grazing of cattle, a standard cattle colony also has shopping and supply centres for diary products, with abattoirs and meat warehouses for processing finished products.
Federal government’s decision to establish cattle colonies across the country was taken at a special security meeting with governors of five states considered as epicenters of the farmers/herders clashes and Security chiefs in Abuja. At the meeting, the federal government blamed the wanton killings carried out by Fulani herdsmen across the federation, especially in the middle belt on the failure of government to invest and provide necessary facilities for cow rearing.
Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, and his Interior counterpart, General Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd), who disclosed federal government’s decision regretted that government had not been fair to livestock farmers as it has been to other aspects of farming, saying “ these killings are due to negligence for over fifty years”.
Acknowledging that the killings and bloodletting of hardworking farmers, if not stopped, would threaten the peace, stability and unity of the country, it promised to measure up, having realised that the abandonment and absence of government support to herders and cow rearing was largely responsible for the incessant clashes and the resultant deaths.
Ogheh said, “The federal government is planning a programme called cattle colonies, not ranches but colonies, where at least 5000 hectares of land would be made available, adequate water and adequate pasture would be made available.
“We also want to stop cattle from roaming the streets, farms and other areas as they will henceforth be provided with water and adequate security by the rangers, adequate pasture milk collection and even security against rustlers to enable them live normal life.
This has been successfully done in India, Ethiopia and even Brazil. “Over the years, government has not done much to look seriously into the issue of livestock development, though people often ask why government and not herdsmen should manage their own livestock.
We are sad to tell you that in the last 50 years until recently, we may have done enough for the rice farmer, the cassava farmer, the maize farmer, the cocoa farmer, but we haven’t done much for herdsmen and that inability and omission on our part is resulting in the crises we are witnessing today.
“In Europe, every cow farm gets a subsidy of 6 Euros per day. We have done next to nothing for the cattle rearers and as a result its operation has become a threat to the existence of our farmers. That is what this communiqué will seek to resolve”.