The Federal Government said on Tuesday that it had begun to establish “Ruga Settlements” for herdsmen in 12 pilot states nationwide.
Alh. Mohammadu Umar, the Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Tuesday on the sidelines of a workshop on Regional Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and associated legislation in West Africa.
He said that the farm settlements when fully established would address the incessant clashes between Fulani cattle rearers and farmers.
Umar explained that the pilot programme had already commenced on a 31,000-hectare in Kotongora, Niger state.
According to him, the required facilities for basic life and treatment of cattle are being provided to enhance productivity.
He said that the government would replicate the programme in selected states as work “is ongoing in the 12 pilot states”.
According to him, six settlements will be established in each of the pilot states.
Umar, who added that the centres would be expanded and adequately equipped, and assured the beneficiaries that government would do all that was necessary to enlighten the herdsmen on how the use of ranches could make cattle rearing more profitable.
He said that the government would sensitise the herdsmen to the social and political benefits derivable from such settlements.
The permanent secretary explained that various spots would be established for the pastoralists to be able to milk their cows.
He also said that dispensaries would be established to prevent the misuse of antibiotics.
The “Ruga Settlement” idea was an initiative of the National Economic Council (NEC) presented under the National Livestock Transformation Plan (2018-2027).
It was an initiative to stop the age-long herders-farmers crisis and to massively develop the livestock industry.
The initiative seeks to promote ranching as the way forward for cattle rearing in the country.
According to the permanent secretary, nomadic livestock production in Nigeria is facing major challenges and is at crossroads due to declining availability of pasture, overgrazing, and expanding fatal conflicts between pastoralists and crop farmers.
He said that the impact on food and nutrition security as well as ”public safety and national security are huge and far-reaching, therefore the government is bent on making the plan to work as it has commenced.
“Under the new plan, cattle herders are expected to be registered and recognised with cooperatives for the purpose of the ranching scheme.
“These cooperatives will then be able to get rental agreements for land from state governments and also benefit from ranch resources on several terms including loans, grants, and subsidies,’’ he said.
Mr Suffyan Koroma, Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Country Representative, said the workshop was organised to prepare the organisation’s representatives and respective countries and regions to work out ways to tackle the impending dangers of AMR and AMU.
“This is because the misuse of antibiotics in agriculture contributes to the spread of AMR and also undermines the efficacy of veterinary and human medicines.
“FAO is set to provide support to governments and stakeholders to adopt measures to minimise the use of antimicrobial and reduce AMR,’’ he said.
The representative said that toward that end, FAO had outlined global action plans for 2016-2020.
“The plan includes awareness, surveillance, strengthened governance related to antimicrobial use and AMR in food and agriculture and promote good practices in food, agriculture, human animal systems and prudent use of antimicrobials.
Participants for the three-day workshop were drawn from WHO, UNICEF, Animal Health Organisation (OIE) EU, Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, Kenya and Sierra Leone.