•Says governors, traditional rulers, others sign off on the deal
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
As parts of efforts to tackle the problems of farmers, herders’ clashes that have led to the death of hundreds of people and the destruction of property worth millions of naira, the federal government is set to launch a pilot programme of its National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) in three states.
The scheme, according to the National Economic Council (NEC) sub-committee on National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), will take off in Adamawa, Nasarawa and Plateau States.
The plan, aims at supporting the development of the livestock sector, was initially billed for implementation in seven pilot states of Adamawa, Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara.
The states, meant to serve as pilot states, are said to have made land available for the project that will be funded by the federal government as soon as they submit their evaluation plan for the establishment of ranches or livestock centres.
At conception, the NLTP was approved to take off with a budget of N100 billion.
NLTP was conceptualised by NEC as an intervention programme to check frequent clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
Answering questions from journalists after a closed-door meeting with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the State House, Abuja, the Governor of Ebonyi State and Chairman of the sub-committee, Chief David Umahi, said the programme would address the farmer-herder conflicts.
He stated that the three states had grazing reserves and consultations had been made with the people of the states and their traditional rulers who had expressed their willingness to embrace the programme.
Umahi said yesterday’s meeting was in furtherance of the committee’s commitment towards the implementation of the NLTP.
“We have pencilled down three states that we have evaluated: Adamawa, Plateau and Nasarawa. So, we are going ahead to ask them to submit their programmes and costing for implementation.
“Three states that have grazing reserves and we have spoken to people in the grazing reserves, the traditional rulers, the district heads and the population within that location and they are willing to go with the programme: the NLTP,” he stated.
Umahi explained that the programme would run along with farming activities within the grazing reserves in affected states, with a line of demarcation drawn between farming and grazing activities.
He added that the principle remained the execution of the programme in accordance with the consent of the people.
The governor added that the programme would help in resolving protracted conflicts between farmers and herders.
According to him, if the idea of grazing reserves is re-introduced, particularly in the North, farmers-herders’ conflicts would subside and the move would conform to the modern way of cattle rearing.
“In this programme, you are going to have some farmers that are within the grazing reserves doing their farming and the herders also doing theirs. Of course, there is going to be a demarcation.
“The emphasis still remains that it is the willing states. Even if you have grazing reserves like some states in the North and the state is not willing to key into it, it is not compulsory.
“The expectation is that we have clear mandates. One is that this programme is going to resolve to a very large extent the farmers-herders conflict.
“So, if we revive some of the grazing reserves, especially in the North, for willing states, we are going to see this conflict come down and then also a modern way of cow rearing for greater benefits. These are things we expect to see,” Umahi added.
The sub-committee is expected to present the report on the latest development to NEC tomorrow at its monthly meeting in Abuja.
Umahi, at an earlier briefing of State House reporters in Abuja last year, had allayed fears that non-Nigerian herdsmen would participate in the programme.
He had explained that movement of cattle would not be allowed without registration and monitoring.
On how the N100 billion budgetary allocation would be sourced, the government had explained that the federal government would provide N80 billion while participating states would contribute the balance of N20 billion.
“The plan has six pillars through which it aims to transform the livestock production system in Nigeria along market oriented value chain while ensuring an atmosphere of peace and justice.
“The six key pillars include: economic development (investment), conflict resolution, justice and peace, humanitarian relief and early recovery (that is to IDPs), human capital development and cross-cutting issues such as gender, youth, research and information and strategic communication,” he had stated.
Osinbajo, in September 2019, had inaugurated the National Livestock Transformation Plan at the Gongoshi Grazing Reserve in Mayo-Belwa Local Government Area of Adamawa.
The vice president had said during the inauguration that the plan was designed to run from 2019-2028 as part of the federal government’s initiative, in collaboration with states, to find a permanent solution to the recurring farmers, herders’ clashes.
“In this plan, the state government or private investors provide the land, the federal government does not and will not take any land from a state or local government.
“Any participating state will provide the land and its own contribution to the project. The federal government merely supports.
“It is a plan that hopes to birth tailor-made ranches where cattle are bred, and meat and dairy products are produced using modern livestock breeding and dairy methods.
“This solves the problem of cattle grazing into and destroying farmlands. It ensures a practical response to the pressures on water and pasture by forces of climate change,” Osinbajo had stated.
According to Osinbajo, the unique feature of the plan is that any participating state will determine its own model.
“I wish to emphasise that this is not RUGA. Because the idea of RUGA settlements launched by the Ministry of Agriculture created a problem when it was perceived as a plan to seize lands to create settlements for herders.
“RUGA was not the plan designed and approved by the governors and the president rightly suspended the implementation,” Osinbajo had said.