Federal government has disclosed that some of the herdsmen wreaking havoc on communities across the country do not speak any Nigerian language.
The Minister of State for Agriculture, Heineken Lokpobiri, made this disclosure during public hearing.
The public hearing was on tackling the perennial conflicts between farmers and cattle rearers.
He restated the government’s plan to import grass from Brazil to feed cattle.
He added that nine states had provided hectares of land for the building of ranches.
According to him, statistics show that most people (herdsmen) arrested do not speak the Nigerian language.
He said, “Brazil can boast of 220million cows, Nigeria can boast of less than 19million cows.
“It may also interest you to know that because of the nomadic nature of our herdsmen, our milk production is in the negative.
“Nigerian cows on the average produce of 1 litre a day.
“As opposed to the cows in Brazil and Saudi Arabia that produce as much as between 30 to 40 litres a day.
“And the reason is simple: when a cow moves from Maiduguri to Bayelsa, there is no way it can produce any milk.
“From what we have discovered from the experts, cows don’t like movement; they just want to eat, drink water and rest and give you good milk.
“In Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Argentina and some other countries, the cows do not move.
“They are confined to ranches, grass, water provided for them and they provide the desired quantity of milk and quality of meat.
“It may be disheartening to say that most of the cows that you see roaming in Nigeria have different types of diseases that are easily transferable.
“Because by the time you flog a cow from Maiduguri to Bayelsa, you can imagine the implication.
“We believe that as one of the solutions, we need to find a way to see how we can give some form of re-orientation to the cattle herdsmen.
“It has been contended by some people that it is traditional for Fulani herdsman or other herdsmen to be moving from one place to the other.
“Yes, it is a tradition that has dated back centuries.
“But the question is whether as a tradition, is it sustainable in modern day reality?
“Is it profitable to the Fulani herdsman? Is it healthy and secured for the herdsman?
“And the simple answer going by other climes is that it is a tradition but traditions change based on realities.
“There is this huge opportunity in this sector. We import for only milk powder alone we spend $1.3billion.
“For dairy products, milk products we may spend as much as $5billion a year.
“And this is an opportunity that if our herdsmen have the proper orientation, they can keep their cows.
“[They can] feed them well with grasses, provide water for them and get the same between 30 to 40 litres per milk a day.
“And this $5 billion will be within the economy of Nigeria.
“As part of the solutions as a ministry, we have consulted widely and also studied the literatures that exist in the sector.
“And we have realised that the best way to solve this problem will be the creation of ranches.
“If we create ranches we will provide what the Fulani man is looking for.
“The ranches will have all modern amenities so that the family of the herdsmen can also have the same opportunities that other Nigerians have.
“They will have opportunity to go to school, access to health facilities, agro-allied industries that may be clustered within these ranches.
“We believe that the creation of ranches will be one of the solutions that we will put on the table.
“Mr President has directed that we should liaise with state governments because the Federal Government alone cannot do it.
“And we have contacted 19 states governors and nine states have already donated 5,000 hectares each for us to start the creation of these ranches.
“We had in the past about 415 grazing reserves. Out of that about 144 were gazetted and the rest not gazetted.
“Those grazing routes, most of them no longer exist.
“They have been encroached upon and grazing reserves without grasses is useless.
“So, what we want to do is to do what other countries are doing.
“Saudi Arabia is importing grasses from the USA and Sudan.
“That is why Saudi Arabia does not have this problem.
“There are no cattle movements in Saudi Arabia.
“What they have are ranches where these grasses are provided.
“And those cows are the most comfortable in the world because they stay in air-conditioned environment.
“And produce about 4.7m litres of milk per day and that is what they use to supply the entire Middle East.
“We believe that if we import Alfalfa Grass Seeds, we are not saying that we want to import grasses as Saudi Arabia is doing.
“We want to import the grass seeds so that we can plant them in this 5,000 hectares that the state governments are donating.
“It will create immediate employment and create thousands of jobs…
“There will also be boreholes, small dams, veterinary services.
“We also believe that cattle breeding as a programme is going to be embarked upon by the Ministry of Agriculture.
“We are thinking about how to increase the productivity in Nigerian cows.
“Most of the female cows out of the less than 19million we have cannot conceive because of the long movement from one area to the other.
“So, we have resolved to import semen from Europe so that we can do artificial insemination so as to breed the productivity of cows.
“This is something that is done globally.”
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