The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has said the on going National Conference on Livestock will address persistent clashes between farmers and herdsmen in the country.
Osinbajo disclosed this yesterday during the Livestock Stakeholders Conference organized by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and other stakeholders in Abuja.
He said the conference was a deliberate plan to converge all key stakeholders in the livestock industry in order to provide a lasting solution to several challenges confronting the industry.
Osinbajo said the effort will eventually contribute to national security stressing that the Federal Government has established Agro Rangers to protect ranches.
The Vice President noted that about 3000 of the Rangers are currently undergoing training in order to discharge the duty effectively.
According to him, the Agro Rangers will be strong armed to protect ranches across the country.
Osinbajo, who was represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said the service will be rendered free while the Rangers will be supervised by the Federal Ministry of Interior.
He explained that if the strategy works in addition to stakeholder recommendations from the national conferences, it will be recommended to other neighboring North African countries to adopt.
The VP expressed concerns that the nation’s national security is already threatened by the incessant crisis between the farmers and herdsmen.
Describing the conference as timely, he said implementing the recommendations would help promote the economy and create jobs for the unemployed.
“In the face of expanding, the human population, food production, and demand have increased in a commensurate manner. The pressure on land is great. There is a decline in soil fertility and farm holdings are small, while grazing lands are being degraded due to increasing livestock activities, poor management, effects of climate change, and increased conversion to farmlands due to the high population of humans.”
“We have heard so many have lost money, 300 cows rustled, 200 cows taken. We have now put together a new security group called Agro Rangers. This group is being trained by the Ministry of Interior. They are heavily armed. 3000 of them are heavily trained.”
“If you have a ranch or big agricultural project, approach us, we will post them to you at no cost. They will protect your investment,” Osinbajo said.
The Vice President assured the farmers and pastoralist of providing an insurance cover to protect their investments.
The Minister of Agriculture, in his personal remark, lamented over lack of attention on the livestock industry by successive administrations.
He said the pastoralist has been marginalized with their grazing routes and reserves have already taken over while attention was mainly on crops.
Ogbeh, who pleaded supports of the conference participants disclosed that about 13 States have provided 5, 000 hectares of land for grazing reserves.
He said prior to this time, cattle don’t roam but because of the need for survival, they had to scout for pastures, adding that beyond cows reared by herdsmen in the country, there are foreigners who come into the country from Chad, Niger, Senegal in search of grass.
Senate Committee Chairman, Abdullahi Adamu in his remark called for a holistic approach to addressing the situation.
He said the livestock sector has suffered reject from the government stressing that the roles of pastoral farmers are significant to contributing to nutritional need in the country.
According to him, grazing reserves and cattle routes were in the government gazette before he was born.
“We have to make-up our mind on what to do to achieve transformation in the livestock industry,” he added.