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Ranches, colonies feasible only after FG remedies 6 issues — Report

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, last week in Abuja officially received the report of the national conference that looked at…

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, last week in Abuja officially received the report of the national conference that looked at a 10-year (2018 -2027) transformation roadmap for the Nigerian livestock industry. 

The National Conference on the report was Transformation of the Nigerian Livestock Industry submitted by the Local Organising Committee chaired by Dr. Gideon M. Mshelbwala, Director, Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services and Mr. John T. Taiwo, Director, Department of Animal Husbandry.

The report seen by Daily Trust is in two parts; with part one looking at a 10-year National Livestock Development Plan (2018-2027) with strategies towards actualizing the conference recommendations while part two examined the details and record of its proceedings.

The document, which summaries key recommendations of the policy dialogue that was held in Kaduna in April 2017, and the National Conference on the Transformation of the Nigerian Livestock Industry held in Abuja, 11-15 September 2017, stressed that cattle ranching and by extension the new colonies would not be realistic until the Federal Government deals with six key issues.

“From the experiences shared at the conference and the pre-conference dialogue, ranching cannot be embarked upon until these six major and critical factors are given top priority as they are the pillars that hold the value chain, especially at the production end,” it said. 

The report listed the factors as follows: 

One: That access to land is key to successful ranching and other forms of intensive livestock production systems. “It is, therefore, paramount to give it the priority it deserves in the design of, and location of the proposed ranches. Consequently, it is envisaged that the plan will take-off in the 16 pioneer ranch states that have pledged 5,000ha each towards the transformation of the livestock industry as well as 141 gazzetted grazing reserves nationwide.”

Two: On ranch, colony size and models, the Federal Government was advised in the report to encourage “the formation and registration of livestock owners into productive alliance, cooperatives or clusters along family or clan lines to facilitate access to land and support for ranching, taking into cognizance herd size holdings and ranching locations.”

Three: Grazing land and feed production, which are the most important elements in ranching and colonies, must be accorded top priority as “commercial pasture and fodder producers need to be promoted and supported as part of the ranching programme. This is to ensure availability of feed and water to curtail pastoralism and transhumance.”

Four: There is need to develop breeds that can attain economical productivity to ensure profits in production. Therefore, a Breed Improvement Programme should be embarked upon through selection and cross breeding.  There is the need to also finalize and adopt the National Livestock Breeding Policy that would also ensure conservation of 20% of indigenous cattle population of pure breed for both beef and dairy.

Five: With regard to credit facilities, “Government should therefore re-structure the sub-sector and provide the required policy support, alternative funding windows at single digit interest rate and an enabling business environment such as making productive assets as debenture collateral.” 

And six: The development and provision of infrastructure and deployment of services such as extension, improved breeding schemes, skills, disease control and management, capacity building as well as livestock institutions reforms among others will be necessary for the programme.

The document also asked government to provide Rancher Starter Package. Set of vital inputs and tools to enable ranch take off. 

The report asked the minister, Chief Ogbeh, to seek the support and commitment of his colleagues at the federal level as well as political and resource commitment at state and local government levels and that of all the stakeholders.

It emphasised that “Since the plan’s commencement cannot be captured under the FMARD’s 2018 budget, its take-off funding is proposed to be accommodated under the Federal Government’s Special Intervention Fund (Extra budgetary allocation) and private equity. 

“However, it is recommended that a National Livestock Industry Transformation Fund be created and funded with percentage of duties/levies/taxes derived from livestock and livestock products imports.”

Chief Ogbeh, while receiving the report, stated: “We have listened to what people have said and we recognise people’s rights to freedom of expression, but let me reiterate once again that the government is not seizing land of any Nigerian to give to Fulani herdsmen for them to colonise.” 

The programme is also not an appeasement of Fulanis at the detriment of crop farmers either, he said and also refuted the allegation of sell out, cautioning that “if today, we as government and citizens don’t find a practical solution to the problem as quickly as possible, it will get worse tomorrow.” 

“We didn’t envisage how much high voltage emotion and politicking this issue has generated. It is one of our characteristics as a country that we live with. We need to educate the herdsmen, educate every one of us of the need to move away from what we were doing before that is bringing conflict for many reasons; avoiding crisis and making this industry more productive,” Ogbeh said.

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