THE federal government says it has started establishing settlements for herdsmen across the nation.
Mohammadu Umar, permanent secretary in the ministry of agriculture and rural development, made this known in an interview with NAN in Abuja on Tuesday.
He said the farm settlements when fully established would address the incessant clashes between 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 basic life and treatment of cattle are being provided to enhance productivity.
He said the government would replicate the programme in selected states as work “is ongoing in the 12 pilot states” and six settlements will be established in each of the pilot states.
Umar 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 that dispensaries will 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).
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 the government is bent on making the plan to work as it has commenced.
“Under the new plan, cattle herders are expected to be registered and recognise with cooperatives for the purpose of the ranching scheme,” he said.
“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.”