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Benue Kicks as FG Creates Herdsmen Settlements in 12 States

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Benue Kicks as FG Creates Herdsmen Settlements in 12 States
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By Chris Gaga, Markurdi

The Federal Government yesterday said it has begun works on the establishment of “Ruga Settlements” for herdsmen in 12 pilot states nationwide.

Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alh. Mohammadu Umar, made this known in an interview in Abuja with newsmen on the sidelines of a workshop on Regional Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and associated legislation in West Africa.

He said the farm settlements when fully established would address the incessant clashes between Fulani cattle rearers and farmers.

Umar explained that the pilot programme had already commenced on a 31,000-hectare in Kotongora, Niger state.

According to him, the required facilities for a basic life and treatment of cattle are being provided to enhance productivity, even as he noted that the government would replicate the programme in selected states as work “is ongoing in the 12 pilot states”.

He said six settlements will be established in each of the pilot states.

Umar, who added that the centres would be expanded and adequately equipped, and assured the beneficiaries that government would do all that was necessary to enlighten the herdsmen on how the use of ranches could make cattle rearing more profitable.

He said the government would sensitise the herdsmen to the social and political benefits derivable from such settlements.

The permanent secretary explained that various spots would be established for the pastoralists to be able to milk their cows.

He also said dispensaries would be established to prevent the misuse of antibiotics.

The “Ruga Settlement” idea was an initiative of the National Economic Council (NEC) presented under the National Livestock Transformation Plan (2018-2027).

It was an initiative to stop the age-long herders-farmers crisis and to massively develop the livestock industry.

The initiative seeks to promote ranching as the way forward for cattle rearing in the country.

According to the permanent secretary, nomadic livestock production in Nigeria is facing major challenges and is at crossroads due to declining availability of pasture, overgrazing, and expanding fatal conflicts between pastoralists and crop farmers.

He said the impact on food and nutrition security as well as ”public safety and national security are huge and far-reaching, therefore government is bent on making the plan to work as it has commenced.

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“Under the new plan, cattle herders are expected to be registered and recognise with cooperatives for the purpose of the ranching scheme.

“These cooperatives will then be able to get rental agreements for land from state governments and also benefit from ranch resources on several terms including loans, grants, and subsidies,’’ he said.

Mr Suffyan Koroma, Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Country Representative, said the workshop was organised to prepare the organisation’s representatives and respective countries and regions to work out ways to tackle the impending dangers of AMR and AMU.

“This is because the misuse of antibiotics in agriculture contributes to the spread of AMR and also undermines the efficacy of veterinary and human medicines. FAO is set to provide support to governments and stakeholders to adopt measures to minimise the use of antimicrobial and reduce AMR,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, the Benue state government has kicked the purported plans by the Federal government to commence establishment of RUGA settlements in selected local governments of Benue state.

In a Press statement by Terver Akase, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Samuel Ortom, reiterated that Benue does not have the land for grazing reserves, grazing routes, cattle colonies or RUGA settlements, but accepted that the State only has land for the establishment of ranches.

Ruga which is said to mean ‘Fulani Settlement’ in some parts of the states across the country is a directive of the federal government being implemented by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture Abuja. It is said to be implemented in Otukpo, Tarka and Ukum LGs of Benue State.

The Statement reiterated the firm stand of governor Samuel Ortom against grazing reserves and other policies rather than ranching, noting that the state government was ready to support any one who is ready to establish ranching in the state.

It maintained that Benue people were totally against the federal government’s RUGA and would not accept any imposition of any policy bothering on animal’s husbandary in their lands.

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“We find the approach of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture not only as a gross violation of the Ranching law but also as an insult to the sensibilities of the entire people of Benue State.

“It could be recalled that the people and government of Benue State rejected cattle colonies and still reject the policy in whichever robes it is disguised,” it reads.

The CPS explained the Governor’s resolve that ranching remains a lasting solution to the incessant herders and farmers crisis which the country ought to embrace.

“We wish to remind those pushing for Ruga settlements that the Constitution of the country gives states the right to make laws for the governance of their people. Any attempt to subvert such right is a direct attack on the Constitution. Those behind such a move are enemies of peace and progress.

“The Government of Benue State is willing to support cattle owners to establish ranches as stipulated by the law prohibiting open grazing.”

Meanwhile, the need to support the full implementation of the Anti Open Grazing and Ranches Establishment Law has been advocated as a stand point to possible return of peace in all communities of Benue State.

Also, the need for government to create jobs for the growing population of youths in the country so as to curtail youth involvement in cultisms and other crimes has been advocated.

These were the fallout of a one day Peace Architecture Dialogue (PAD) meeting on the theme; “Transforming the Farmer-herder Conflict and Promoting the Freedom of Religion and Belief in Nigeria’s Middle Belt” as organized by Search for Common Ground in Makurdi.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Orientation, James Agbo observed that if the Benue peoples open grazing prohibition law is faithfully obeyed as been implemented, peace will be inevitable in the state

Agbo encouraged the police and other security agencies to wake up to their responsibilities of ensuring that laws of the land are respected by all inhabitants, even as he urged ‘Search’ to take the sensitization to the rural areas too.

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The Ter Makurdi, Chief Sule Abenga employed NGOs such as ‘Search’ to adopt the Anti Open Grazing and Ranches Establishment Law as a stand point to their peace  crusade in Benue.

Chief Abenga expressed believe that the initiatives such as SEARCH would help sensitize the people and concerned agencies towards advancing peace in the society.

He challenged parents to see every youth as their wards by inculcating moral values especially when such wards are engaged in social vices.

The Chief assured of the cooperation of the traditional institution at ensuring that the NGO records success in their goals.

Representative of the Benue State Police Command, DCP Ibrahim Zakari, noted that for peace to be achieved, the causes of crisis must be highlighted and tackled accordingly.

He identified some of the causes to include increase in d country’s population, recklessness on the part of cattle rearers amongst other things.

In a presentation titled, “Distinction between Cultism and Miscreant Activities to Breach of Peace in the State”, representative of the DSS,

Benue Command, Austine Audu identified peer group influence, drug addiction, poor parenting, frustration and the like as major causes that endear youth to cultism and other vices.

Audu while commending the state open prohibition law, called on government to step up action in the creation of jobs so as to disenable the youth from constituting miscreants in the society.

He challenged the media to step up enlightenmenymt programmes on the need for peaceful coexistence, even as he called for reorientation of students in the tertiary institutions against social vices.

Some Stakeholders at the dialogue meeting including the Chairman of Miyethi Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria(MACBAN), Zakari Mohammed, representative of Benue State Planning Commission(BSPC), Mrs. Nambativ Helen, representative of the Benue State Vigilante Group, Dr Daniel Bo, AFAN and other stakeholders made various contributions bothering on the peace move.

Benue State Coordinator of ‘Search for Common Grounds’, Chorbe Joshua appreciated stakeholders for their various contributions at ensuring the possible return of peace, adding that the resolutions met at the meeting will  enhance the next action plan of the organization.

Agriculture

Buhari Inaugurates 5,700 Hectares Hadejia Irrigation Scheme

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President Muhammadu Buhari recently inaugurated the 5,700 hectares Hadejia Valley Irrigation Scheme in Auyo, Jigawa, to boost food security in the country.

“The project which covered over 5,700 hectares of irrigable farms will significantly contribute to our quest for food security, job creation, economic diversification and the attainment of our objectives of none oil dependent economy,” he said.

The President laid the foundation of the project in 2018.

The project, designed for rice farming, was executed under the Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING), supported by the World Bank.

TRIMING is a special intervention scheme of the Federal Government aimed at promoting sustainable irrigation in the country.

Buhari urged the host community to take advantage of the opportunities provided by gigantic irrigation infrastructure to enhance their livelihood.

“It will be a small part in our overall quest to uplift one hundred million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years,” the president added.

He urged the Jigawa Government to sustain its commitment in agriculture, saying he has heard the success story of its cluster farming system.

Buhari commended Gov. Badaru Abubakar for the achievements recorded in the last seven years, adding that he was amazed by the number of projects executed by the governor across all sectors.

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Buhari sympathised with victims of the flood disaster in  different communities of Auyo, Miga, Kafin Hausa, Kiyawa, Jahun, Birnin Kudu, Dutse and other parts of the state.

The president promised to provide additional relief support to the victims through the National Committee on Flood set up by the Federal Government.

“Today I was able to personally see the extent of the damages while flying from Auyo, Kafin Hausa, Jahun, some parts of Miga, Kiyawa, Dutse and Birnin kudu Local Government Areas of the state,” he said.

The President also inaugurated the Malam Alu Ago Allied Company and Tallest Flag in Nigeria in Birnin Kudu.

He urged Nigerians to use technology to drive agricultural production and other sectors of the economy.

“Technology is something that will solve a lot of our problems; use your heads more, your initiative and use technology and I believe with determination, you will all succeed,” he added.

Earlier, Badaru attributed the huge infrastructure development in the state to the support received from the president.

He said President Buhari administration provided several intervention funds without which the achievements recorded would not be realised.

He also commended the president for completing several projects he inherited across the country, some of which were abandoned for more than two decades.

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Also speaking, Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, thanked the president for releasing billions of naira which enabled the ministry to undertake various irrigation and water projects nationwide.

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Agriculture

FG Establishes 500 Capacity Livestock Farm in Sokoto

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The National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) has established an animal husbandry farm with cow milking parlour.

The farm with capacity for 500 cows and cow milking parlour with capacity of 200 cows in a set, sits on a 100 hectares land in Sokoto State.

NALDA said the idea behind the project was to develop a modern animal husbandry farm that would sustain itself and reduce the movement of cows within the area.

The Executive Secretary, NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne, who disclosed this while speaking with newsmen after inspecting the farm and the poultry feed mill facility, said he was satisfied with the level of work at the facilities.

He explained that the essence of establishing the modern animal husbandry farm, which has cow pens with napier grass on 50 hectares, with the construction of clinics/veterinary sections and a training centre, was to reduce the movement of cattle and end the farmers/herders clashes.

Ikonne said that NALDA was committed to achieving food security and development, as he assured that the farm would generate employment, hygienic milk production and cow fattening for meat.

At the same time, the farm would train and encourage young farmers to go into animal husbandry and animal food formulation, according to the NALDA boss.

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Construction workers were spotted at the 100 hectares farmland at the section of the clinic and training centre building where work was ongoing, while the 500 cow capacity pens and the cow milking parlour have both been completed.

Also spotted were those watering the napier grass field using the boreholes provided by NALDA at the farm.

The farm is located at Dabagin-lafia, opposite the Usman Danfodio University farm, while the poultry feed mill is situated in Dayin village along the road to Doba, in Sokoto State.

“NALDA is into partnership with Prime Ranch Ltd, who donated the 100 hectares of land where we are establishing the animal husbandry farm, napier grass field and will cultivate maize and millet on 30 hectares of the said land,” Ikonne stated.

“The establishment of the napier grass field is to ensure feed production for the cows, as that will eliminate the roaming around of the animals in search of feed, thereby curtailing farmer/herder clash.

“The milking parlour will serve both the cows in the farm and other animal husbandry farmers who would want their cows milked in a hygienic way.

“Prime Ranch will manage the farm on completion based on their wealth of experience in animal husbandry. This type of partnership is sustainable, productive and should be encouraged in order for us to achieve food security and development,” he added.

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On employment opportunities through the partnership, Ikonne stated that with the establishment of the poultry feed mill, which Prime Ranch provided the land and was managing the 62,000 poultry capacity, there would be feed production for small farmers across the zone and other parts of the country.

He said job opportunities would also be created for those who would work at the milking parlour by attending to the cows.

“The employment chain will not be anything less than 400, consisting of workers who would be directly involved in these activities, outside the output, which is achieving food sufficiency,” he stated.

Also speaking during inspection of both projects, the farms and feed mill, the Founder, Prime Ranch Ltd, Nafiu Yakubi, said the partnership with NALDA was coming into fruition.

“The thinking when we incorporated Prime Ranch years back, is to have a ranch kind of arrangement whereby we grow our animals, grow their feeds, fatten them, and sell them off to the market. The partnership with NALDA is a very cordial one. They support us in all areas that we need support from them,” he said.

On the output from the partnership, Yakubu said, “Arising from this partnership with NALDA, you have seen the feed mill. We are currently producing feed for our poultry and other NALDA poultry farmers.”

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He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for encouraging young farmers through NADLA, stressing that the President had called Nigerians to return to farming, as he urged Nigerian youths to yield to the call.

“I am a lawyer and I am back to the farm, so Nigerian youths should go back to farming. It is very profitable and the opportunities are very wide,” Yakubu stated.

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Agriculture

Agric Ministry, Lagos Govt Partner on Proper Nationwide Meat Haulage

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Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu
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The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has said it was ready to work with Lagos State government in order to improve the distribution of meat across the country.

Speaking during a study tour and stakeholders engagement to understudy the air-cool Meatvans from the Abattoirs and Slaughterhouses to the various meat markets in Lagos State recently, the Chief Veterinary Officer of Nigeria and Director Federal Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services, Dr.

Maimuna Abdullahi Habbib said the objectives of the tour was to understudy the state air-cool Meatvans, the Abattoirs and the Slaughterhouses.

She revealed that the Ministry would facilitate the process to ensure that a policy was drafted to ensure smooth operations, enforcement and implementation of the process across the nation, pointing out  that the Ministry had procured 37 vehicles that would be distributed to butchers for free in order to facilitate the process across the country”.

She further stated that the Ministry would strengthen it collaboration with the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to make every structure and every movement of meat from abattoir to the market across the country a success. 

In her remarks the Hon. Commissioner Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture Ms. Ruth Abisola Olusanya said that “prior to the launching of Eko Meat van Project in Year 2004, Meat haulage business in Lagos State was rather disorganised, haphazard and unregulated, adding that wooden carts were used to transport Meat and Carcasses from Abattoirs and Slaughter facilities to the deboning and bulk-breaking sections.

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She pointed out that four Private investors and Butchers Association Group formed the executing stakeholders to run the fleet of air-cool Meatvans from the Abattoirs and Slaughterhouses to the various meat markets statewide, noting that the project was funded by Polaris bank in agreement with the stakeholders.

She further stated that In 2009, the Ministry launched the Eko Refrigerated Meatvan Project which was an advancement of the air-cool Eko Meatvans into refrigerated form and a total of fourteen private investors’ companies along with the State Butchers Association’s and Lagoon Butchers Ventures were successfully –screened and licensed to operate the project under a jointly-registered cooperative umbrella (Agege Meat van Multipurpose Cooperative society).

In his welcome address, the state Director of veterinary services Dr. Macaulay Rasheed Molade said that “the refrigerated meat transportation project runs from 2009 till date and it is involved in the daily haulage of Meat carcasses, cattle officials, head and feet as well as other cow parts from the abattoirs/slaughter facilities to the various meat markets”.

Earlier, in his Goodwill message, the Chairman Lagos State butchers Association Mr. Alabi Bamidele Kazeem said that “the butchers have been supportive to the state government and will continue give its maximum cooperation”.

The Essence of the Visit was to understudy the model of meat haulage in the state’s abattoirs, under the umbrella company known as the EKO REFRIGERATED MEAT HAULAGE. It aimed at adopting the best practices in our abattoirs nationwide and learn from the challenges that come from the initiatives in order to improve on them.

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In attendance were Representative of the Bank of Agriculture (BOA), National Agricultural Insurance Cooperation (NAIC), the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) and the CEO A is Farmers Market.

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