The Federal government has assured of providing securities for ranch owners and other agriculture investors saying that it will no longer pay lip service to recommendations aimed at providing a lasting solution to the incessant conflicts between herdsmen and farmers in the country.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo made this known at the opening of the National Conference of the transformation of Nigerian livestock industry in Abuja on Tuesday.
Represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Osinbajo said the conference is coming at a time when the nation’s fortune in oil and gas is declining and at a time when our country’s security is threatened and heightened by frequent crop and pastoralist conflict, rural banditry and cattle rustling.
He said: “We believe this conference will provide a platform according to your expertise to participate in this debate. we hope that this meeting will provide all the aspects that we have failed to look into as a government, make suggestions to us which we will implement with speed, exchange ideas without rancor, show understanding where there is anger with reasoning and at the end of it all, we will walk out of here and say, yes, there is a problem, yes we are solving it, yes the conflicts in a short while will be over”.
Acknowledging the fact that the country is also grappling with invasion of armed cattle herdsmen from other neighboring countries, he assured that “at the end of the conference, we intend to meet our neighboring states in West Africa. Cattle comes from those countries, if our formula works, we will transfer this formula to them so that they too can contain their own cattle and stop them wandering”.
The Vice president further stated that the federal government was also sympathetic to farmers who have lost their cattle to cattle rustlers and those who have suffered loss in their agriculture investment as a result of these clashes, also disclosed that 3000 people are being trained to provide the much needed security.
“On our part, for those who want to go into ranches, we have heard how many of you have lost money to cattle rustling. We have now put together a security group called the agro rangers. These rangers are been trained by the ministry of interior and are heavily armed.
“If you have a ranch or a big agricultural project, approach us and we will post them to you at no cost. They will protect your investment.
“We do not want you to go into ranching and loose all your cattle. You cannot afford that kind of cost. Over and above, we intend to give you insurance cover. Because we consider this industry serious because we know if it thrives, a great deal of good will be done to our country,” he said.
Speaking as Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh said providing a lasting solution to the conflicts will go a long way in improving livestock production in the country maintaining that the move became necessary as Nigeria is clearly taking a bold step towards modern methods of cattle rearing.
He lamented that Nigeria spends billions of naira yearly importing milk of low quality when the country could easily develop its livestock sector to meet the dietary needs of its populace.
“Over the last years, we have spent billions importing milk which is not the best kind of milk. Why is the Nigerian cow the lowest producer of milk on planet earth, less than a liter per day per cow? Why is the cow in kenya or Botswana able to produce up to 15 liters per day per cow; It is because they trek long distances in search of food and water. They do not like walking”, he opined.
He expressed optimism that the relevant stakeholders will come up with long lasting recommendations that will assist the federal government in tackling the myriad of issues affecting the livestock sub sector to make it an industrial hub in Nigeria.