The cattle colony project – the government’s antidote to the herdsmen-farmers crisis that has claimed many lives – will begin immediately. Sixtheen governors have offered five hectares of land each for the project.
Agriculture Minister Audu Ogbeh broke the news yesterday.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari promised to help the ministry fund the project.
“On the issue of cattle, we have to start immediately; 16 states have given us land to work on. The programme is not going to be cheap. Mr President has personally informed me that if we seek help from him, he will give it to us over and above the budget we have, and when that budget is released I plead with all of you to come on board to work hard to achieve results.
“We are talking of cattle colonies, not ranches, so to speak, where we will provide water, grass, training for herdsmen, cattle breeding and insemination.
“We have to deal with an urgent problem, cattle rearing and the conflicts between farmers and herdsmen, and actually bring it to a halt. I know that some people argue that the culture of open grazing is our culture, but when a culture begins to develop dangerous trends, leading to warfare between people and bloody clashes and death that culture is due for re-examination. If it is harmful, we reform it.
”Nigerians are getting extremely uncomfortable with these killings and we may make political statements and issue palliatives and ask the police and army to go after killers. Let us do our own duty by eliminating the conflict by creating cattle colonies.”
Ogbeh critcised the report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that four million jobs were lost last year, saying over six million jobs were created in the agriculture sector. The Hibiscus, also known as Zobo, earned the nation’s farmers about $35 million last year as demand continued to increase, he said.
According to him, our agriculture is heavily manual and to be able to reduce rice importation by 95 per cent, at least six million extra jobs have happened in the farm.
“There are about 12.2 million members of the Rice Growers Association; we have created more jobs than we have lost,’’ he said.
“We are exporting more than we are importing now and most exportation is agro-products.
“We are growing in agriculture and from the middle of this year, whoever chooses to eat Thailand rice is welcomed to pay duties.
“We shall impose duties on it because we consider it a wasteful luxury and something this country can’t afford,’’ he said.
Ogbeh said the Federal Government would also engage in establishing both cashew and cocoa plantations to boost production and export in 2018.
He spoke of plans to make the country a leading producer of cashew nuts.
The minister said that fertiliser blending would also be improved to accommodate micro nutrients in the product.
Ogbeh said the government would work to ensure quality control of produce both for export and local consumption
According to the minister, the sector will this year focus on new plantations for cashew nuts, relaunch cocoa that will move the country up from number seven to number one in the next five years and improve fertiliser blending, which micro nutrients will be included.
Permanent Secretary Dr. Bukar Hassan, said Nigeria would export organic fertiliser to Europe next month.
The Synergos Country Representative, Adewale Ajadi, called on directors and political advisers in the ministry to synergise and work assiduously.
Ajadi urged the federal, states and local governments to work together.