Southern states, 3 Northern states reject cattle colonies 

THE planned establishment of Cattle colonies across the country has suffered a serious set back as information gathered by Tribune Online revealed that all the Southern states, three states in the North did not donate lands for the establishment of the agricultural policy.

Tribune Online learnt that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development wrote to the 36 states, requesting for the donation of 5000 hectares of land each for the purpose of implementing the Cattle colonies policy.

It was gathered that only 16 states from the North responded positively to the proposal, however, Southern states rejected it, while 3 states in the North including Taraba, Benue and Sokoto did not buy the idea.

From a source in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the 16 states that agreed to donate 5000 hectares each includes Adamawa, Kano, Katsina, Zamfara, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Plateau, Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Borno, Jigawa, Niger, Kogi and Kwara states.

Meanwhile, the reasons for the rejection of the Cattle colonies policy by states is not clear yet, but recently, the Governor of Benue state, Samuel Ortom had said the state doesn’t have 5000 hectares of land to donate for Cattle colonies.

During the meeting between Benue state elders and President Muhammadu Buhari after the killings of 73 by suspected Fulani Herdsmen in Benue state, the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom said: “in Benue, we don’t have ten hectares of colonies, other states may have, but we don’t have in Benue state.”

A source revealed to Tribune Online that when the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development wrote to States to donate lands for the Cattle colonies, Benue state government did not reply the letter to indicate if they are participating or not.

Taraba state which was the first state to enact the Anti Open grazing law was among the states that rejected the Cattle colonies policy. Over the years, the Fulani herdsmen had been at loggerheads with the farmers at Taraba state which has led to the death of many.

However, there have been fears that in the course of establishing the Cattle colonies, the owners of the lands would permanently forfeit their lands to Fulani herdsmen, but the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh assured landowners that their lands would not be taken away by the herdsmen or the government.

“When we speak of colonies, we are immediately greeted with reactions that this was an attempt to seize Nigerian land, hand them over to Fulani- herdsmen to colonise. Nothing can be further from the truth. The intention is not for Fulanis or anyone for that matter to colonise any territory.

“It is to provide a safe haven for cattle to graze in peace, to under controlled environment prevent conflicts between farmers and herdsmen. If any suspicion does arise, it is unintended and regrettable. We never meant and do not have the intention to seize anyone’s land by force,” Ogbeh said.

Furthermore, Ogbeh said “we have agreed to work together to create a new culture of cattle rearing different from what we have today. We are told that it is a custom of the herdsmen to be moving around. The current culture of open grazing is posing a serious challenge and not too efficient. It does not allow the harvest of milk while the yield on milk in Nigeria is one of the lowest in the world averaging one or half a litre per day.”

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