Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The federal government has posted 3,000 agro rangers to protect cattle ranches across the country.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo announced this decision tuesday at the National Conference on Transformation of the Nigerian Livestock Industry held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
He said the armed rangers were trained by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and would be assigned to the ranches to curtail the activities of rustlers.
According to Osinbajo, the protection of the ranches would make the cattle rearing business profitable in Nigeria.
The vice president, who was represented by Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, made the keynote address while declaring the three- day conference open.
He similarly announced that the federal government would at the end of the conference, schedule a meeting with some of the neighbouring West African countries on how to control their herds from wandering into the Nigerian borders.
He said the nefarious activities often attributed to local cattle breeders were committed by herdsmen from across the West African countries, who roam the country to graze their herds.
While also unfolding government plan to provide insurance cover for the sector, Osinbajo, declared that October 19would be dedicated as farmers’ day in Nigeria.
He said the day would be preceded by an agricultural show to be held in Keffi, Nasarawa State.
“If there is hunger in the land and the people are not fed, there will be no peace, “ he said.
Speaking in his capacity, Ogbeh lamented that the perennial clashes of herdsmen and farmers across the country usually occurred because all the 415 gazetted grazing reserves had been converted to other use.
The minister said cows occasionally roamed the streets of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) because the capital city used to be on the cattle migration route before the seat of government was relocated from Lagos.
Ogbeh said 13 states of the federation had also agreed to dedicate 5,000 hectares of land for grazing and organisation of cattle colony.
According to him, government was also considering how to convert rice stalk and cassava grass into the production of cattle feed.
Ogbeh said cassava grass contains 28 per cent of protein. He said 40 million tonnes of cassava are produced annually in the country.
Meanwhile, Ebonyi State has lamented that herdsmen, farmers clashes in the state are often violent because juvenile herdsmen are allowed to rear cattle.
The state government’s position was conveyed at the conference by the Deputy Governor, Dr Eric Kelechi Igwe.
Igwe, who represented Governor Dave Umahi, said the under-age herdsmen are immature to rear cattle, as they encroach and destroy farm land.
He insisted that ranching was the only option in Ebonyi rather than the current open grazing carried out by Fulani herdsmen.