Farmer-herder crisis: Six states reject FG’s livestock scheme

Farmer-herder crisis: Six states reject FG’s livestock scheme

Six state governments, namely Delta, Cross River, Anambra, Akwa Ibom, Oyo, and Edo have said they will not donate any land to be used as grazing reserves for herdsmen under the National Livestock Transformation Programme.

However, 17 northern states and the Federal Capital Territory, as well as three southern states, namely Ekiti, Ondo, and Ebonyi, have signed up for the programme.

The Federal Government had in February said it had mapped out 30 grazing reserves across the country for the planned implementation of the NLTP.

The government said the implementation of the programme would result in a lasting solution to the farmers-herders crisis in the country.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Agriculture, Dr Andrew Kwasari, said in a statement, “And every state that adopts the NLTP, it is to its own reality. It is not conscription, but if they do it this way, it will modernise livestock and crop production, remove conflict, create dialogue, and create cohesion in communities.”

In 2018, the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, had inaugurated the NLTP at the Gongoshi Grazing Reserve in the Mayo-Belwa Local Government Area of Adamawa State.

He said the plan was designed to run from 2019 to 2028 as a collaborative project among the federal and state governments, farmers, pastoralists and private investors.

However, some southern state governments on Saturday rejected the idea of creating a grazing reserve for herders. They said they did not have any land to donate for the initiative.

They stressed that any individual who wanted to go into ranching should rather look for land to buy.

The Delta State government said that the state had moved past talks on grazing reserves for herdsmen, saying it would never be part of such a plan.

The state Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu, “I don’t know the one they are talking about. We have passed the issue of debate on grazing reserves. Anybody talking about grazing reserves now does not wish this country well.

“Is the Federal Government rearing cattle? Cattle-rearing is a private business and if a person needs land for ranching, they should buy. Ours is to regulate their activities and collect tax from them. We don’t have land to give anybody.”

Also, the Anambra State government said it had no plans to create grazing reserves for herdsmen.

The state Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C-Don Adinuba, said the state had the smallest landmass in the country bedevilled by the scourge of erosion, hence it would not embark on any project that would further deplete its land.

Adinuba said, “Ranching is big business. If herders apply for land to do their business, we can consider allotting land to them. But government cannot on its own start establishing grazing reserves because the era of government going into full-scale businesses has gone. Private sectors drive the economy all over the world.

“Besides, we don’t have the land. Anambra has the smallest landmass in the country after Lagos. So, we don’t have that luxury of land for grazing reserves.”

Also, the Akwa Ibom State government said it was not creating grazing reserves for herders in the state.

The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Ini Ememobong, said, “We are not creating grazing reserves. But if the people want to do ranching as a private business, they can do so at their expense in line with normal land acquisition processes.”

The Cross River State government also said it did not have any immediate plans to create grazing reserves for herders in the state.

The state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Okon Owuna, when asked if the state would create grazing reserves, said, “Not now. It is not in the budget. We only implement what is in the budget.”

Owuna, however, noted that the Obudu Ranch Resort was a grazing site in the state.

In Oyo State, the government also rejected the Federal Government’s NLTP programme.

The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Seyi Makinde, Mr Taiwo Adisa, told Sunday PUNCH that the state had set in motion the anti-open grazing law which must be followed by all herders in the state.

He said, “If you are conversant with the state’s anti-open grazing law, it has already spelt out the relationship between farmers and herders. It has also spelt out the position of the state on livestock rearing in the state.

“The law signed by the governor says there won’t be open grazing of livestock in the state and there won’t be child grazing in the state, and that anybody who is interested in grazing in the state can apply for ranches.

“If he spots a piece of land, he can apply to the landowner for a lease of the land for three years and it is renewable. Once the landowner agrees to the proposal, he would submit it to the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, which will, in turn, submit an application to the Ministry of Environment to conduct an environmental impact assessment.”

Adisa said if the Ministry of Environment found such land suitable for ranching, it would forward the application to the governor for approval.

Although Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki has yet to form a cabinet for his second term, an official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the state viewed herding as any other animal husbandry business, and as such would not give any preferential treatment to herders.

“Cattle-rearing is an agricultural enterprise. Nobody is giving goat rearers or poultry farmers any special treatment. The governor has made this known,” the official said.

Meanwhile, Enugu and Imo state governments said they had yet to decide whether to key into the NLTP programme or not.

Enugu Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Mathew Idu, said he was not aware of the programme and had no idea about the criteria used by the Federal Government in mapping out the grazing areas.

Asked whether the state would key into the programme, Idu said, “That is the executive council’s decision and not mine.”

Also, the Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, said the government had yet to decide whether to key into the NLTP programme or not.

Ekiti, Ondo, Ebonyi, FCT, 17 northern states sign up for NLTP

On the other hand, the Federal Capital Territory, Ekiti, Ondo, Ebonyi and 17 northern state governments have signed up for the NLTP.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Agriculture, Dr Andrew Kwasari, disclosed this in an interview with PUNCH.

He said officials from the 20 states and the FCT would be trained to prepare for the programme’s implementation.

Kwasari insisted that the NLTP would help put an end to the lingering farmers-herders crisis, contrary to the belief in some quarters that the scheme was aimed at taking over people’s lands for herders.

According to him, there are several components of the NLTP which state governments are free to choose from. He added that the government was not forcing any state to join the scheme.

Kwasari said, “As we speak, 20 states and the FCT have indicated an interest in the programme. The states have written to us. What happens is that states interested in the NLTP will write to us.

“We will then begin by taking them through training in preparation for the stages involved. The states that have written to us include 17 northern states, Ekiti, Ondo and Ebonyi.

“There are several components of the NLTP. There is the public-private partnership component, whereby the state partners with the private sector to build ranches. So, the people need to understand that this is a programme that will help put a permanent end to the farmers-herders crisis.”

The Ebonyi State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Uchenna Orji, confirmed the state’s participation in the programme, adding that it would improve the agricultural sector of the state.

He said, “Yes, we want to take advantage of the National Livestock Transformation Plan to improve our agriculture to ensure that our farmers are involved in livestock production.

“So, it’s going to be wonderful, because it will involve the rearing of different types of animals. It is going to be an integrated farm and that is why it is called a livestock programme. We want to be part of the programme.”

Similarly, the Ekiti State Commissioner for Agriculture, Olabode Adetoyi, said the state government was committed to the NLTP, noting that it was in the process of reactivating the Oke Ako and Irele cattle ranches in the state to cater for the interest of cattle businessmen.

Adetoyi said, “We are committed to the NLTP. We have our Irele and Oke Ako ranches which we want to reactivate and give to any businessman that approaches us for ranches.”

He said a two-day training programme for the committee set up by the NLTP and the state government was already billed for this month.

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