Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has debunked reports that plans by the Federal Government to establish cattle colonies, was aimed at reallocating community lands to herdsmen.
Ogbeh, who said this when Plateau Governor, Simon Lalong visited him in Abuja said the measure was aimed at quickly curbing the incessant bloody clashes between farmers and herdsmen.
“Cattle colony is not using herdsmen to colonise any state. It is going to be done in partnership with state governments that will like to volunteer land for it. The Federal Government will fund the project and those wishing to benefit from it will pay some fees,” he said.
He noted that the colonies would cater for more cattle than the initially proposed ranches.
“While ranching is more of an individual venture for the herdsmen and those wishing to invest in the livestock sector, cattle colonies is a larger project where up to 40 ranchers can share same facility that will be provided by the government at a reduced rate. Already, 16 states have volunteered land,” he said.
He said that establishment of the cattle colonies and the land clearing programmes could help increase milk production and improve the quality of beef for local consumption.
The minister said the Federal Government would soon convene a stakeholders’ forum with the herdsmen and other stakeholders on the implementation of the new policy.
He also commended the Plateau Government for its efforts towards developing agriculture.
Earlier, Lalong who said that he was at the ministry to understand the new policy revealed that the state would key into the policy to maintain peace in the state.
“I happen to be one of the persons that keyed into the ranching policy when it was introduced. We saw some lands in Plateau and we provided them for the implementation of the policy. The introduction of this policy is of interest to us, that is why we are always here. We also heard about the introduction of another one, that is the cattle colony and I said let me still come back again. We will also key into this policy,” he said.