Ogbeh Agric minister warns herdsmen/farmers crisis will get worse in 2019

He said the Federal Government needs to implement effective policies to put an end to the conflicts.

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Agric minister, Ogbeh, warns herdsmen crisis will be worse in 2019 play

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh

(GongNews)
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The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has warned that failure to effectively address the ongoing dispute between cattle herders and local farming communities might lead to more bloodshed this year.

The struggle for access and control of lands over which roaming herdsmen graze their cattle has led to conflict with local farmers all over the country, resulting in the death of hundreds just this year alone with herders credited with a majority of the attacks.

While speaking to State House correspondents after the National Food Security Council meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Monday, April 9, 2018, Chief Ogbeh said the Federal Government needs to implement effective policies to put an end to the conflicts.

According to him, the Federal Government has to work out grazing alternatives for herders to dissuade them from trespassing into farmlands and causing friction with local communities.

He said the cattle industry is profitable to the country's gross domestic product and should not be neglected as it has been for decades.

He 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 six 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 is not cheap and government cannot subsidise cattle rearing like they do in Europe, where they subsidise every cow. 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 don't do it, next year will be worse than this year, I assure you."

Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, who is also in the council, said there is already a recommendation made to President Muhammadu Buhari to ratify the establishment of Agro-rangers, a specialized group of security agents, to combat the crisis.

He said, "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 some of the problems that we have in various states on the conflicts between farmers and herdsmen."

FG's cattle colony initiative

As a measure to put an end to the crisis, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development have been trying to implement an initiative that involves rearing cattle in colonies that are controlled by the Federal Government.

According to Chief Ogbeh, cattle colonies are a combination of several ranches where 20 to 30 ranchers can share the same colony.

The ministry has implored state governments to sign up for the initiative because it addresses the needs of cattle herders by providing resources to care for their cattle while avoiding unnecessary conflicts over economic resources between them and farmers.

Despite the controversy that the initiative has gathered, 15 states have expressed interest in taking part. The list of states includes: Adamawa, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Jigawa, Yobe, Niger, Kogi and Kwara.

Plateau State was listed as another interested party until Governor Lalong's public rejection of it.

States who sign up for the initiative are expected to volunteer 5,000 hectares of land each.

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