FEDERAL government officials have drawn up plans to create 30 grazing reserves across the country under the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) in attempt to address the ongoing Fulani herdsmen crisis currently afflicting the country.
Nigeria is currently being torn apart by the menace of marauding Fulani cattle herdsmen who have terrorised the country with their violence. These herdsmen have destroyed farms as their livestock eat farmers’ crops and when local communities complain, the response is for the pastoralists to attack villages with AK47 assault rifles.
Of late, the herdsmen have graduated to other crimes like kidnapping, rape, banditry and armed robbery. With Nigeria facing the prospect of a total breakdown in law and order over the crisis, Dr Andrew Kwasari, President Muhammadu Buhari’s senior special assistant on agriculture, said the establishment of 30 grazing reserves would solve the protracted conflict over competition for land, water and pasture by herders and farmers.
According to Dr Kwasari the NLTP is cardinal under the Green Initiative project, because it is a sure way to permanently settle the lingering crisis. He further said that Nigerians need to understand and embrace the NLTP by following the modalities of the plan.
Dr Kwasari said: “The National Livestock Transformation Plan is a sure way in solving permanently the issue of the farmer-herder conflicts. The real farmers and herders that have conflict and mark my words, real farmers and real herders have a crisis today triggered for resources of land, water and pasture.
“The 19 northern states have grazing reserves and so far, we have mapped out over 30 grazing reserves and on paper we have over 400. So, the northern governors have to be committed in working with the federal government, federal ministry of agriculture and rural development, under the supervision of the National Economic Council, to make sure that wherever those grazing reserves are found that we able to convert them into lush green models specifically for pastoralists and the pastoralists will not migrate anymore.
“The land is there, we don’t need to look for land anywhere and the traditional rulers we consulted, like the Gbom-Gbom of Jos, clearly advised and said the low hanging fruit for federal and state governments is we make sure we settle pastoralists in gazette grazing reserves. This takes away any notion of land grabbing or taking land from communities and giving to pastoralists because we are in volatile situation, hate speech and all of that.”
He added that the NLTP is crafted to offer opportunity on how livestock production is done and also how farm cropping is done. According to Dr Kwasari, the NLTP starts by training and arm-holding the pastoralists in the northern livestock production system, teaching them how to grow the pasture, settling them in a systematic way and environmentally friendly pattern.
“I hope with the move being made by both state and federal governments, particularly by the recent announcement made by the agriculture minister, the NLTP will take off fully so that we can demonstrate that there is a new way to find a solution between the pastoralists and farmers. On kidnapping and banditry, I don’t think NLTP is the answer because there is sheer criminality in that aspect and I am sure that the security agencies are working on that,” Dr Kwasari added.