The federal government will soon begin remodelling grazing reserves into ranches in seven states in Nigeria as it moves towards implementing its controversial National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).
The Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Nomadic Education (NCNE), Bashir Usman, disclosed this on Tuesday, at a training workshop on the remodelling exercise held in Zaria, Kaduna State.
Mr Usman said this is part of the government’s efforts to transform and modernise the country’s livestock industry through the NLTP.
This newspaper reported how the Nigerian government announced the (Rural Grazing Area (Ruga) programme for willing states to contribute large areas of land for the construction of animal husbandry settlements.
The presidency at the time said 12 states had indicated willingness to be part of Ruga, despite many Nigerians criticising the programme and many state governors opposing it.
Against the backdrop of the strident criticism of Ruga in parts of the country, the federal government in July suspended it and announced the NLTP in its place.
The NLTP includes programmes for rehabilitation of displaced IDPs resulting from the conflict between farmers and herders, and the development of ranches in any willing state of the federation.
The Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, who chaired a committee that played a role in the design of the NLTP, said it is a voluntary programme.
“It is not compulsory, it is for any state that is willing, will key into the programme,” he said
He said any state interested was required to bring up a development plan in line with the programme.
There are several game reserves (national parks) in the country with the Nigeria National Park Service (NNPS) responsible for preserving, enhancing, protecting and managing vegetation and wild animals in the parks.
The NNPS is a parastatal under the Federal Ministry of the Environment and is headed by a Conservator General. It works closely with the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation.
According to the Punch Newspaper, the training in Zaria was organised by NCNE for 120 nomadic education extension agents and other officers of the commission.
Speaking through the Director, Social Mobilisation and Women Development in the commission, Mohammed El-Nafaty, Mr Usman listed Adamawa, Taraba, Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue, Kaduna and Zamfara as the selected states.
He said the existing grazing reserves had already been carved out, demarcated and gazetted.
The director said 141 out of the 416 grazing reserves, spread across the six geo-political zones of the country with a total of 3.4 million hectares of land have been gazetted.
He 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 and modernisation 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.
“This can be achieved through the transformation of grazing reserves into ranches, otherwise known as Intensive Livestock Production Systems,” he said
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 pastoralist 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 livestock producers to have access to improved production facilities and social amenities.”
Mr Usman said basic amenities and processing infrastructure along the value chain will be provided.
The NCNE boss disclosed that the commission had established 17 Model Nomadic Education Centers in the gazetted grazing reserves.
They would work closely with the Coordinating Office of the National Livestock Transformation Plan.
Earlier, Director, Department of Extension Education and Skills Development, NCNE, Abdu Ardo, said the training was organised to build the capacity of participants to mobilise and sensitise pastoralists on the remodelling process.
On his part, the Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Agriculture, Andrew Kwasari, said the measure would end the protracted farmers-herders clashes over scarce land and water.
Mr Kwasari, who is also the Coordinator of NLTP, said the extension agents would demonstrate to farmers and pastoralists how to promote livestock production in the country.
“I hope in the next six months, we will begin to have success stories that would help the full implementation of the livestock transformation plan,” he said.