By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Senate Committee on Agriculture at the weekend threw its weight behind federal government’s decision to import grasses for grazing from Brazil.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, who made the disclosure in Abuja, said the importation of grazing pastures for cattle at designated places across the country would proffer permanent solution to the protracted crisis between farmers and herdsmen.
Adamu dismissed criticism of the move by some professors of agriculture who had opposed the move, saying they had technology to grow grasses if they received government support.
He criticised the inability of the professors to proffer solution to the problem of grazing over the years, saying they lacked any moral right to criticise the government’s move.
According to him, importing grazing grasses and making them available to cattle rearers would stop the movement of cattle from one place to another adding that the move would also put paid to the growing spate of killings by herdsmen.
He also said the government would provide and service pasture to curtail the continuous movement of cattle by herdsmen, noting that in the United States, pastures and water are provided to grow nutritious grasses for cattle’s sustenance.
Adamu said the government must face the reality of the moment by taking some painful decisions in order to end the herdsmen and farmers’ clashes, arguing that “there are no easy fixes” to the problem.
He also blamed the mindless killings by herdsmen on growing indiscipline among the herdsmen, government failure to address key issues causing the crisis and politicisation of the matter.
The Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, had in March this year, disclosed that government had the plan to begin the importation of grasses for cows to reduce the movement of herdsmen across the country.
Ogbeh, had disclosed that Buhari was setting up grazing areas in various states of the federation as a response to the clashes.
Addressing his Idoma people who protested the massacre of Agatu people in Benue State by herdsmen in Abuja, Ogbeh said: “We are producing massive hectares of grasslots for the consumption of cattle; we have received these grasses from Brazil and we are growing them in massive quantities.
“Cattle herdsmen want grasses for their cattle; such grass is what we are growing in large quantities and, within the next three months, some of these will be ready.
Ogbeh also disclosed that the government would initiate a legislation that would control grazing in unauthorised areas.
“We are also sending a bill to the National Assembly to legislate that cattle should no longer roam in our cities and villages.
“We will equally raise the issue at the level of the African Union, to compel member-countries to take steps to prevent their herdsmen from grazing into neighbouring countries. It will be a major international crises if we do not stop it now,’’ Ogbeh said.
Furthermore, Adamu disclosed that Buhari had ordered the injection of 10,000 tonnes of grains into the system to ease the pains caused by rising cost of grains in the country.
He said his committee had discovered that the administration of Buhari met many silos in the country empty adding that his committee was impressed that the federal government had prioritised agriculture.
He said the Senate would provide the necessary legislative support for the presidency to restore the lost glory of agricultural sector in Nigeria.