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FG earmarks N1.13bn for cattle grazing projects, insists on routes recovery

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THE Federal Government has earmarked about N1.13 billion for cattle grazing projects even as it insists on the recovery of grazing routes across the country.

This is coming after the controversial move by President Muhammadu Buhari to revive old grazing paths for herders .

Through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), findings have shown that the National Grazing Reserves Development was allotted about N1.1 billion (N1,084,434,975), as revealed in the 2021 approved budget of the ministry.

The sum of N39.4 million (N39,356,203) was set aside for the development of pasture and fodder feeds at the grazing reserves and pasture corridors. It was labeled as an ongoing project, with ERGP30154570 as the budget line.

Another budget line (ERGP30152789) identified as a new project was the survey of tsetse fly and animal trypanosomiasis at the grazing reserves. This activity is also expected to gulp N3.5 million.

Similar to the above project is N3.2 million (ERGP30153103) allotted for the control of tsetse fly and animal trypanosomiasis at the grazing reserves.

The ministry would as well spend N4 million (ERGP30153515) as a new project for the surveillance and population suppression of tsetse flies in grazing reserves across the country. Implementing the entire grazing projects as found in the ministry’s budget is expected to cost about 1.13 billion (N1,134,491,178).

Meanwhile, popular belief, especially from those residing in the south, is that grazing routes and reserves are strictly within the northern laws and boundaries.

The ICIR reported how the proposed policy had continued to stir more tensions as state governments, policymakers, lawyers, and other opinion shapers from the region kicked against it.

Despite the growing concerns and positions of lawyers over the controversial gazette designed in 1963, the Ministry of Agriculture has already commenced retracing and recovery of the cattle routes.

Buhari had earlier directed the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami to see to the cattle paths recovery.

We won’t recover cattle routes where govt. infrastructure exists – Agric Ministry  

The Ag. Director of Animal Husbandry Department at the FMARD Winnie Lai-Solarin further reemphasised the proposed plan, stressing that not every pastoralist could afford to ranch, even though it was one of the options provided to address the lingering farmer-herder crisis.

She disclosed that cattle routes situated in non-violent locations could be retraced as well as those already taken over by farmers, and other human activities. The non-encroached paths, she said, would be given preference.

“There are some stock routes that we have across the country, and in the past, we had monuments along these stock routes, particularly the primary stock routes. And in the course of farming or other human activities along those stock routes, the monuments were altered, but we know where they are. So we are saying that some of them can be retraced,” Lai-Solarin told Punch.

“And this is particularly for areas that are not encroached upon as of now. The pastoralists know the routes, and on some of those routes, you will see the pieces of the monuments along them.”

She added that “So for those that are not encroached upon and are not in conflict zones, we will go ahead to retrace and guide the pastoralists along them. We didn’t get to where we are today in one day and so we cannot expect that every pastoralist should suddenly start ranching now.

“Some would still have to move but let’s keep the movement as safe as possible and in areas that are not conflict zones. That is what I am saying. We are not going to retrace stock routes where there are infrastructures that are for the public good.”

Despite the president’s announcement, most state governors from the South still insist on ban on open grazing.

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