Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai has said that a lasting solution will soon be found to the frequent farmers/herders clashes, as the pastoralists have started to embrace technology in the processing of dairy products and animal husbandry in the state.
El-Rufai who made this promise at the commissioning of a 500-litre milk and yoghurt processing plant at Ladugga village, further said that with the cultivation of Napier grass in the area, nomads do not have to go outside their domains in search of greener pastures.
The governor further said that the processing plant in Ladugga would end the situation whereby nomadic women take their milk and other dairy products to long distances in order to sell.
The governor who was represented by Dr Hadiza Balarabe, his running mate in the next election, said that the processing plant was built through a partnership between the Kaduna State government, Ladugga Cooperative Society and Business Innovation Facility (BIF), a UK-DFID programme.
Dr Balarabe further said that the plant would also end the era when the nomads lose income owing to lack of storage and preservation technology and facility.
El Rufai’s running mate, who was conducted around the facility by Dr. Ayo Celestine, a consultant for BIF, said that it would have a positive impact on the lives of many people in the area.
According to Dr Celestine, the facility produces Wule Yoghurt, which is now being sold in the market.
Speaking on the occasion, state Commissioner for Agriculture and Forestry, Dr Manzo, Daniel Maigari, narrated how increased milk and dairy production, which necessitated the setting up of the processing plant came about.
According to the commissioner, his ministry and BIF had encouraged pastoralists in Ladugga Grazing Reserve to experiment on the growing of Napier grass in 2015.
Dr Maigari said that they, however, did not envisage that the increase in yield would be high as 200 % in milk and dairy production. He recalled that before the experiment with Napier, the cows in the area were producing 1 litre of milk per cow per.
The commissioner said that right now, the cows produce 3.5 litres per cow per day on the average, thereby raising their owners’ earnings and improving their lives.
Dr Maigari further pointed out that the fortunes of the nomads have now changed for the better, especially when the state government and BIF built the milk processing plant for the production and preservation of yoghurt.
He said that 43 milk collection centres had been established for nomadic women to sell their milk at a much higher price.
He further revealed that the nomads were trained in hygiene, pasteurisation and preservation of milk to ensure that the product was of standard for the milk and dairy market.
According to him, about 200 hectares of Napier is being cultivated, indicating the success of the experiment and how it is gaining acceptance among nomads.
Corroborating Maigari’s claim, the Country Director of BIF, Mr Soji Apampa, disclosed that Katsina, Kano, and Edo states have all embraced this innovation, adding that cultivation had now reached over 250 hectares across the country.
He said that studies had shown that using Napier reduces the cost of feeding an average cow by 45% and one hectare of Napier grass sustains 20 lactating cows for a whole year.
It would be recalled that Kaduna State has designated four of its 17 grazing reserves for the cultivation of Napier in an effort to introduce ranching, a programme conceived by the Federal government to address herders-farmers clashes in the country.