There was confusion on Tuesday over the Federal Government’s remodelling of grazing reserves in seven states into ranches.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that the Executive Secretary, National Commission for Nomadic Education, Prof. Bashir Usman, in Zaria, Kaduna State, on Tuesday, said the remodelling of grazing reserves into ranches was part of efforts to transform the country’s livestock industry
He said this at a three-day capacity building workshop on the remodelling of grazing reserves into ranches.
Usman, who was represented by the Director, Social Mobilisation and Women Development in the commission, Alhaji Mohammed El-Nafaty, listed the selected states for the programme as Adamawa, Taraba, Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue, Kaduna, and Zamfara.
But some of the states listed, including Benue and Plateau, said they were not aware of remodelling of grazing reserves into ranches.
On its part, the Zamfara State Government said it had earmarked N8.4bn for the settling up Ruga settlements, which were rejected by some states last year.
However, the NCNE boss, Usman said that the existing grazing reserves had already been carved out, demarcated and gazetted.
He added that 141 out of the 416 grazing reserves, spread across the six geopolitical zones of the country with a total of 3.4 million hectares of land, had been gazetted.
Usman stressed that the idea behind developing the grazing reserves into ranches was to provide state -of-the- art grazing resources for livestock herders in the country.
This, according to him, will curtail the persistent farmer-herder conflicts that are threatening peace and security in the country.
He noted that transformation of Nigeria’s livestock industry would cause a paradigm shift from a predominantly traditional, informal and uncoordinated industry, to a more formal and organised one.
He said, “The main idea of developing the grazing reserves into ranches is to provide state –of- the –art- grazing resources for livestock herders in the country with a view to curtailing the unending farmer-herder conflicts that are threatening the existence of Nigeria as a nation.
“This can be achieved through the transformation of grazing reserves into ranches otherwise known as Intensive Livestock Production Systems.
“This entails training and re-training of front-line staff and other key stakeholders, effective community mobilisation and sensitisation through extension services.
“It also involves the identification, mapping and clustering of pastoralists and their communities in the existing grazing reserves as evidence based data preparatory for the full implementation of ranching concept in the country.
“It equally entails the provision of the requisite resources and infrastructure to serve as a window of opportunities for the livestock producers to have access to improved production facilities and social amenities.
“Other provisions include schools, security, markets, clinics, livestock service centers, access roads, milk and meat processing centers along the value chains as well as other critical infrastructure,” Usman said.
The NCNE boss disclosed that the commission had established 17 model nomadic education centres in the gazetted grazing reserves and would work closely with the Coordinating Office of the National Livestock Transformation Plan.
Earlier, the Director of the NCNE’s Department of Extension Education and Skills Development, Dr Abdu Ardo, said that the training was organised to build the capacity of participants to mobilise and sensitise pastoralists to the remodelling process.
Declaring the workshop open, the Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Agriculture, Mr Andrew Kwasari, said that the measure would end the protracted famers-herders clashes over scarce land and water.
We are not aware of remodeling – Benue
But the Benue State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr Timothy Ijir, said that the state was not aware of the plan by the Federal Government to remodel the grazing reserves.
Ijir, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said, “If there is any arrangement by the Federal Government to restructure or remodel grazing reserves then we are not part of it. The Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranching law enacted by the state government is still in place and we are not ready to compromise it.
“The Federal Government recently brought the National Livestock Transformation Plan, which we have completely embraced. However, we are going to restructure the National Livestock Transformation Plan to conform with the Benue State Ranching law.