Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has finally unveiled the 11 states that provided 55,000 hectares for the establishment of ranches aimed at curbing farmers and pastoralists clashes in their states.
Ogbeh made this known at a news conference in Abuja, yesterday.
The states are: Plateau; Kaduna; Kano; Gombe and Katsina. Others are: Taraba; Niger; Adamawa; Jigawa; Sokoto and the FCT.
Oyo and Benue states are on record as opponents of grazing lands.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi had said proposed creation of grazing zones across the country was ill-advised and warned that it was against the spirit of the Land Use Act and the overriding public interest. The governor bared his mind on the controversy which trailed a bill at the National Assembly for the creation of grazing zones for cattle across the country as a panacea to the perennial clash between trespassing herdsmen and farm owners.
On its part, Benue said it would support ranches rather than grazing lands. The position of the state government was made known in a statement issued by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and ICT, Mr. Tahav Agerzua.
Speaking at the conference, Ogbeh said of all enterprise in the livestock sector, only the poultry industry achieved an appreciable level of commercialisation.
Ogbeh said other industries in the livestock sector were predominantly in the hands of subsistence farmers with pastoralist system of production contributing over 90 per cent of cattle production in the country. He said the 2011 National Agricultural Sample Survey indicated that Nigeria was endowed with an estimated 19.5 million cattle, 72.5 million goats, 41.3 million sheep, 7.1 million pigs and 28,000 camels.
Accordingly, the minister said the country had 145 million chickens, 11. 6 million ducks, 1.2 million turkeys and 974, 499 donkeys.
Ogbeh said this impressive statistics which had made Nigeria number one in livestock in Africa had not met the national demand of animal protein or contributed to the GDP over the years.
He decried the low milk production in Nigeria as a cow produced one litre of milk a day while a cow in Saudi Arabia or Brazil produced 30 to 40 litres.
“Saudi Arabia produces 4.7 million litres of milk daily while Nigeria imports about 1.3 billion dollar worth of milk annually to make up deficit.
“The way forward in improving our livestock and dairy industry is to intensify efforts on adding value to the industry along the respective livestock value chains.
“In line with our goal of attaining self sufficiency in animal protein, this administration has set out to establish ranches to be planted with high quality improved tropical grass and legume species.
“We shall provide irrigation for all year commercial fodder production to enhance settlement of pastoralist and ensure cattle, sheep and goat improvement through an expanded breeding programme through artificial insemination.
“We shall group dairy farmers in clusters, build their capacity and equip them with milk collection facilities and facilitate single digit loan for them,’’ he said.
The minister said there was a new disease outbreak affecting maize production in some parts of Edo and in the South West of the country.
He gave the name of the disease as “army worm’’, adding that relevant research institutes were working on it and the ministry was monitoring the level of threat it posed.
Ogbeh urged farmers not to panic, adding that the ministry would take further action if the disease is not controlled within a short time.