Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development at the weekend warned that farmers/herders clash may worsen if not properly addressed.
Ogbeh said this in Abuja during the submission of a report by the Committee on National Conference on the Transformation of the Nigerian Livestock Industry, chaired by Gideon Mshebwalla, and was accompanied by other members of the committee who were John Taiwo, Alhaji Auwal Maidabino, Hammed Sanni and Kola Owolabi.
Ogbeh, in a statement issued by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, also commended the committee’s job and said sensitisation of herdsmen , farmers, politicians and communities would soon commence, as part of government’s solution to tackle the menace.
According to him, government has listened to what Nigerians have been saying about the matter. He maintained that government would not forcefully take land for the proposed cattle colony programme.
It will be recalled that the National Livestock Conference held on the 25th September 2017 at the International Conference Centre, in Abuja, was attended by over 770 stakeholders, featured 15 speakers over four thematic areas and examined issues that have stifled the growth and modernization of the industry.
Ogbeh said: “We have listened to what people have said and we recognise people’s rights to freedom of expression, but let me reiterate once again that the government is not seizing land of any Nigerian to give to Fulani herdsmen for them to colonise.
“The programme is also not an appeasement of Fulanis at the detriment of crop farmers either. If today, we as Government and citizens don’t find a practical solution to the problem as quickly as possible, it will get worse tomorrow.
“We didn’t envisage how much high voltage emotion and politicking this issue has generated. It is one of our characteristics as a country that we live with. We needed to educate the herdsmen, educate everyone of us of the need to move away from what we were doing before that is bringing conflict for many reasons; avoiding crisis and making this industry more productive.”
Meanwhile, the committee recommended resuscitation of the grazing reserves, encouragement of private people to go into setting up ranches in addition to the Federal Government setting up of cattle colonies.
The committee also advised government to provide infrastructures including roads, electricity, water, improved pasture and provision of extension services as well as empowering the agricultural research institutes to invest on research that will be accessible to operators in the sub-sector.
However, it also stated that some problems bedeviling the industry, which include lack of access to land, low productivity, old practice of open grazing, lack of access to finance, inadequate water provision, inefficient landholding, poor infrastructure and support facilities, as well as low level of extension facilities as being the major factors militating against optimal development of the sector.