Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, yesterday declared that ranches remained the only panacea if the government was desirous to end the farmers-herders clashes across the country.
Ogbeh, who briefed State House correspondents along with Governor Simon Lalong after a meeting of the Committee on National Food Security at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday said that cattle in the country contributed six percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) hence the need to create an “environment where they have water, grass and security against rustlers.”
The minister lamented that for nearly 40 years the country did not do much about the cattle sub sector which, he said, made it inevitable for the herdsmen to roam around.
“The cheapest way of rearing cattle is by roaming around with them as you see now. If you go into a ranch, it is not cheap and government cannot subsidize cattle rearing like they do in Europe where they subsidize every cow with €6 which is about N2,400. We cannot afford that.
“So the thing is, to create those ranches, the herdsmen must be prepared to pay tax to support the programme. If we don’t do it, next year will be worse than this year, I assure you.,” he said.
Fielding questions, the minister said the committee at its meeting yesterday also discussed the price of goods in the market, availability of food and the challenges facing the country during emergencies, among others. He said the panel looked at other security issues, including those that impede on agriculture growth.
Lalong said the committee would come up with recommendations for the setting up of what he called agro-rangers as part of the solutions to the farmers-herdsmen crisis.
“Part of the recommendation we have made and we are working on, is the issue of agro-rangers. We noticed that if you are talking about farmers-herdsmen crisis, you have to train a specialized group of security outfit to handle those issues, it is not to concentrate on conventional security.
“What we are still appealing to Mr. President to do is to hasten the process so that it can help solve some of the problems that we have in various states on the conflicts between farmers and herdsmen.”
Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, who also joined in the briefing, said the committee was poised to resolve the conflict between farmers and herdsmen in parts of the country.