The construction of cattle colonies by the federal government to address crises between herders and farmers is yet to take off, Daily Trust investigations have shown.
Creation of cattle colonies for herders is one of the solutions contained in the National Livestock Development Plan (NLTP) launched by the federal government in January and its implementation is expected to have commenced since then.
The 10-year plan was developed to check the incessant conflicts between the headers and the farmers.
It was developed by the National Economic Council (NEC), chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. The Ministry of Interior and that of Agriculture and Rural Development were also part of the drafting committee.
Daily Trust reports that the idea of the cattle colonies was first disclosed by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Audu Ogbeh in January 2018 at a Strategy Retreat for civil servants and political appointees of the ministry in Abuja.
Daily Trust reports that the plan seeks to establish ranches in seven states of Adamawa, Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kaduna, and Zamfara mostly hit by severe farmers-herder conflicts.
The plan is expected to costs the federal government and the participating states N92 billion with an additional over N100 billion from the private sector.
Daily Trust investigations have shown that no colony has been created in any of the pilot states.
Our correspondent reports that the implementation of the livestock plan is yet to commence.
Director of Livestock Services in the state Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Edward Amali, told our correspondent in Makurdi that work has not yet started on the pilot project in the state.
Amali said the delay was because his ministry was working to seek the state government view about the FG’s idea of cattle colonies which contravenes the Benue anti-open grazing law.
“The state government has to take a stand on the matter, so for now, implementation has not started,” Amali said.
In Kaduna State also, the Public Relation Officer, Kaduna State Ministry of Agriculture, Dahiru Abdu, told Daily Trust that work at the proposed site has not yet commenced.
“You know the just concluded general elections might be the reason why the commencement was delayed. They are waiting for disbursement of funds from the office of the Vice President,” he said.
Similarly, the Zamfara State Commissioner for Agriculture, Alhaji Lawan Jibrin Jangebe, told Daily Trust that “We are yet to be contacted on anything like that. So I can tell you that there is nothing like cattle colonies in the state at least for now,” he said.
Mapping of areas begins in Plateau
However, reports from Plateau State show that the mapping of proposed areas and soil testing have begun in Wase and Kanam local government areas of the state.
Wase in Plateau’s southern senatorial district and Kanam in the central district have vast lands. The State government had also budgeted the sum of N250 million for the establishment and management of ranches in the 2019 appropriation bill.
Plateau State Commissioner of Agriculture Hosea Istifanus told Daily Trust on phone that the proposed plan was to establish ranches not colonies which, he noted, could easily be misinterpreted.
He said, “We have grazing reserves in Kanam and Wase local government areas that were gazetted over 50 years ago and so far we have done the coordinates of the areas in the two LGs. We have also embarked on enumeration because there are cases of encroachment but because the programme is people-friendly, government doesn’t want to chase the people out but to incorporate them into the programme. Therefore no one will be displaced.”
He further stated that specialists have been taken to the affected areas to get samples of the soil for testing, stressing that, “we also have to harvest water, we have existing earth dams but they are not in good shape so the specialist that came from Abuja will do their own findings.”
A former councillor in Wase, Shafií Sambo, told Daily Trust that a large expanse of land around Mavo-Gimbi area of Wase had been mapped out for the project three months ago.
Reports from Adamawa State also show that implementation of the plan has commenced at Gwagarap village in Shelleng local government area of the state with the clearing of land in preparation for pasture development.
Our correspondent in the state reports that boreholes with overhead tank have been provided in the area for takeoff.
We are on course – FG
But speaking with Daily Trust in Abuja, the Advisor, Agriculture Interventions Coordination, Office of the Vice President, Dr Andrew Kwasari, said the implementation activities have commenced in earnest.
“We just concluded the survey of peace agencies or framework in each of the states under the Justice and Peace Pillar of the NLTP in the seven pilot states to anchor the reconciliation, justice, and peace activities properly. We are also finalizing the reconstruction of destroyed communities.
“We have surveyed over 4000 destroyed homes, markets, churches and mosques in the affected communities in 7 states, we have also gone to BPP with requests to give no objection for the Ruga model support for the non-ranching option of the plan, we have received no objection from BPP and FEC has approved the provision of seeds, agrochemicals and fertilizer for the affected crop farmers in the affected communities,” the Advisor said.
Dr Kwasari said “So far, we have seen over 10 billion investment commitment from one private partner. Let me state that it’s too early to comment on whether or not the 92 billion public investments will be sufficient to implement the programme. What I hope for is that FGN and States will continue to implement the programme transparently to keep private investors motivated to keep investing.”
Daily Trust gathered that five out of the seven governors have transmitted letters of commitment to contribute 20% counterpart funding for their state participation to the committee secretariat chaired by the Vice President.
In addition, a similar letter of commitment from about five other states, which are not part of the pilot but have found private partners willing to ranch in their states, have been sent to the Vice President.
The plan is already seeing activities by private sector investors. For instance, Arla Group has installed and commissioned milking centre in Kaduna about two weeks ago in partnership with a local dairy farm to serve as milk collection and processing centre for local pastoralists.
“So activities have started and more to come in the next six months,” Dr Kwasari stated.
Expert laments delay
Experts are worry that the slow pace of implementation may affect the impact of the plan on this year’s farming season as farmers are about commencing activities.
Mr Tosin Apesan, a farmer and agriculturist, told Daily Trust on phone that the crises between herders and farmers usually heighten during the rainy season when farmers might have planted their crops.
“I have gone through the Plan and it is fantastic but how many of such Plans have we developed in this country. We lack implementation manner, look at it since January, I haven’t heard anything concrete being done,” he said.
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