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Livestock sector needs urgent attention -Cattle breeders

How do you want the present government to take the issue of neglect of the livestock sector in agriculture? There should be a legislation that…

How do you want the present government to take the issue of neglect of the livestock sector in agriculture?
There should be a legislation that will compel the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to strike a balance between the crop and livestock sub-sectors. If livestock sub-sector is given very good attention, it will contribute a lot to the economy of the country.
Imagine the number of cattle breeders in Nigeria and yet we import milk because no effort was made to improve the breeds of the cows. In the Netherlands, where dairy farmers have good breeds of cows, each one gives an average output of 40-50 liters of milk per day.  But in Nigeria, it gives maximum of three liters per day. So if we can get that sort of specie, you can imagine how the economic wellbeing of an average cattle breeder will be in the country.
Let us talk about rustling and farmers-herders crises. How do you think government and other stakeholders can effectively tackle these issues?
Cattle rustling emanated from the crises between farmers and cattle breeders. The crises degenerated into religious and ethnic sentiments, where you have a particular tribe dominating a community seeing the Fulani on the other hand as an external problem. So because of the transformation of the crises, it developed into armed conflicts. That was how these cattle rustlers issue became a big problem.
But the crime is not about tribe or religion, it’s a common interest. We have criminal elements among the Fulani just like in other communities. If criminals come together, their aim will be to rustle cattle or to kidnap. It’s impossible to rustle 100 or 200 cattle without the help of a Fulani man, this is a fact that people must know. It has become a business and everybody is involved in it.
To tackle rustling, we have signed a MoU to establish and produce a way bill into the country.  If a cow is taken for sale, it must have a pass tag which carries a lot of information such as where the cow was purchased, who sold it, who was the dealer etc. we would also ensure that no cattle is loaded outside the cattle market. These are some of the measures we are embarking on to frustrate the activities of cattle rustling.
Let’s go to Benue State, what do you think can guarantee a lasting solution to Fulani herdsmen and Agatu crisis?
For the Agatu issue in particular, what we are calling for is dialogue between the leaders of the Agatu and the Fulanis in the presence of the two state governments. Agatu is located at the border of Benue and Nasarawa, River Benue has divided Agatu. The Agatu are in Benue State and at the other bank of the river in Nasarawa. So because of this, the two state governments must be involved in the reconciliation process to settle the crisis between the leaders of both the Fulani and the Agatu communities. Unless something like that is done, I doubt very much if we can achieve peaceful coexistence between them.
Do you think that grazing reserves can be part of the solutions?
Yes, but the problem is that of environmental challenges, the cost of the growing population and animals and concentration of policies on crops, neglecting the livestock sub-sector have created a lot of demands on the land which have resulted to a lot of encroachment into our grazing reserves. The demand for land by government officials, politicians, agro companies looking for farms has made them to encroach so much into our grazing reserves. That is why we want the federal government and the national assembly to make legislation that will protect these grazing reserves so that encroachment into our grazing reserves can stop.

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