Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh has warned that the country may face more crises as a result of herdsmen/farmers clashes next year, should the Federal Government refuse to quickly adopt ranching as an option.
The minister stated this yesterday while addressing State House Correspondents after a meeting of the National Food Security Council (NFSC) at the presidential villa, Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari recently inaugu- rated the NFSC giving its members broad objectives of developing sustainable solutions to the farmers– herdsmen clashes, as well as climate change, desertification and their impact on farmland. The Council was also charged to address issues of grazing areas and lakes, rivers and other water bodies; oil spillage and its impact on Niger Delta fishing communities; piracy and banditry; agricultural research institutions and extension services and the problem of smuggling.
Ogbeh disclosed that herdsmen in the country were ready to voluntarily pay appropriate taxes to support the establishment of grazing reserves and cluster ranches as solution to the continued clashes between farmers and the herdsmen remained the establishment of ranches and grazing reserves.
“If we don’t do it, next year will be worse than this year, I assure you.”
The minister indirectly took a swipe on the government, saying animal husbandry which contributed nearly 6 per cent to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product was neglected for almost 40 years, a development that may have contributed to the current clashes between farmers and herders.
Commenting on specific measures the committee had adopted to check the farmers-herdsmen clashes, Ogbeh said “we have to move the cattle to the good old grazing reserves and we just have to create environment for them, clusters of ranches where they have water, grass and security against rustlers.
“For nearly 40 years we didn’t do much about cattle, we also forgot that cattle contribute 6 per cent to GDP. The cheapest way of rearing cattle is by roaming around with them as you see now. “If you go into a ranch it’s 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 and the herdsmen are prepared to pay tax to support the programme.
If we do not do it, next year will be worse than this year I assure you.” Governor of Plateau State Simon Lalong who is also a member of the council, said the establishment of agrorangers which the federal government had bought into remained a sacrosanct policy to end killings occasioned by herdsmen and farmers.
He said: “Part of the recommendation we have made and we are working on, is the issue of Agro-rangers. And 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.
“So there is a recommendation before Mr. President for the employment and training of Agro-rangers. What we are still appealing to Mr. President is to hasten the process so that it can help solve