By Ene Okwahine
The process of resettling herdsmen and bringing an end to farmers/herders clashes in the country has commenced with Niger state in North Central Nigeria taking the lead with the establishment of a 31,000 hectares of grazing reserve in the state.
The state keyed into the federal governments National Livestock Transformation Programme by establishing the thirty-one thousand hectares worth about thirteen Billion Naira Grazing reserve.
The grazing reserve located in Bobii village in Mariga Local Government Area of Niger state is being equipped with a complete Vetenary hospital, two Dams, Health care facility, grass growing fields, settlement areas for the herders, milk processing factory, Abattoir and a well equipped school for the children of the herdsmen.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Mr. Audu Ogbeh who was on an inspection tour of the facility commended the efforts of the Niger state government in supporting the federal government’s plans to resettle herdsmen in the country.
“We are very grateful to Niger state for leading the way and for sharing our dreams in our plans to end crisis between herdsmen and farmers. You can see what they laid out, 31,000 hectares of land, it is one of the largest grazing reserves in the country and there are some more… we are now hoping that this will be the pilot after which ten or twenty or thirty more will be built in different states of the country,”he said.
Interaction with the outside world
The Minister while interacting with some of the herders, was informed by their leaders that their people don’t like moving around, living in bushes with no form of civilization and without formal education for their children and interaction with the outside world.
Mr. Ogbeh said the way the herders showed interest in the project demystified the general notion that the Fulani people like to live in bushes and are not interested in civilization.
“You have heard now, demystification of the theory, that the Fulanis’ like to walk about because it is their way of life, it is not true, you heard them, they want to live like everybody else, they want to drive good cars, send their children to school and live a normal settled life, because they are farmers.”
He noted that the need to help the herdsmen settle is no different from the way government supported every other subsector in agriculture like rice and maize.
“For those who say we should not support them, I want to say once again, cattle’s rearing is farming, it is so in every part of the world. We forgot them for nearly sixty years and so their grazing habit has become a problem, we are trying to solve them. They are farmers, the way we support maize farmers, rice farmers, beans farmers, cassava farmers, we have to support them to settle down and then there will be peace in the country”
Mr. Ogbeh stated that the Federal Government will give all the necessary support to the project to ensure it achieves it set target.
The minister added that the federal government will support the project with machines for milking cows, milk processing factories run by private sector operators, solar pumps, help the facility grow grass, machines to process agro waste and artificial insemination facility.
Niger state government
The Deputy Governor of Niger state Ahmed Mohammed Ketso while speaking to Journalist said the state was supporting the federal government in the fight against insecurity and ensuring that there is peace in the state and the country at large.
“The idea was also conceived based on the directives of Mr. President and we discovered what we need to do first is to build social infrastructures for them to believe that, really, it is possible.
He adds that their intention is to take the lead to comfort the married Fulanis and also to avoid the issue of clashes which was why they quickly conceded to the idea of President Buhari.