The media was agog last weekend with news that around 500 heads of cattle and rams were brought by train into Oko-Oba, Agege, a Lagos suburb, all the way from Zamfara State, in a historic feat under the Farm to Market scheme anchored by the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agriculture Lending (NIRSAL), an initiative of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Connect Rail. The last time cattle were moved by rail from the north to the south was in 1986, 30 years ago.
According to NIRSAL, the total value of live animal trade between Northern and Southern Nigeria is estimated at between N850 billion and N950 billion per annum. Currently, the total value of the North-east-Lagos cattle trade market is estimated at N324 billion per annum, excluding the North-South-East cattle trade or the trade in small ruminants including sheep and goats. This is not counting other obvious advantages of regular, faster and more efficient supply of meat and better, more profitable bargains for cattle owners and ranchers.
Although it is difficult for the traditional cattle herdsmen to willingly submit their cattle for the faster and safer train journey the same way it is difficult to convince villagers of the benefits of a nearby borehole rather than trek long distances to fetch water from the stream or river (due to chance for village gossip), the earlier the average owners and nomads are enjoined to embrace the rail transport scheme for their cattle, the better for everyone. This will help to greatly reduce herder-farmer conflicts and help eliminate a thorny issue for the federal and state governments. Just saying…
– Abimbola Akosile