Agriculture

Herdsmen menace: FG may engage NSCDC to guard farmers, farms

<![CDATA[…Rolls measures for food sufficiency

To successfully end the killing of farmers by allegedly Fulani herdsmen and adequately protect farmlands for massive cultivation, the Federal Government is contemplating engaging the services of officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, made the disclosure while fielding questions from newsmen after Wednesday meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by president Mohammadu Buhari at the presidential Villa, Abuja.

Ogbe said that he was in talks with his counterpart at the Ministry of Interior to work out the modalities.

He recalled the ordeal of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae in the hands of the marauding herdsmen, saying that it was one experience that had scared farmers and agro investors.

The Minister said that the development had also affected bumper harvest of most staple and essential food items which could be produced locally.

He said: "I had a meeting with the Minister of Interior. We were looking at security situation in agriculture. Sometime last year, some gunmen went to ‎Olu Falaye's farm, a Nigerian in status, in age and ranking and took him away and marched him around, forced him to trek 10 kilometers, even carried him on their backs. Many more farmers are coming in including foreign investors and to stand the risk of being subjected to this kind of humiliation, we are talking with Ministry of Interior that we have to put measures in place.

"These things are happening in other countries too where the civil defence corps may have to train a special department to protect huge investors and investment in their farms for a fee, because kidnapping will not stop.

"From the security point of view, we have to take measures ‎to make sure that people who invest are protected.

"In other countries of the world, you may have noticed that people live on their farms, you hardly see a farmer who lives in the city. He lives on the farm with his family, you cannot do that here. They will come and take you, your wife and children in the name of kidnapping. We have to stop it and we have to use the legitimate instrument of state to do it legitimately because the farmer has no right to buy an AK47 to protect himself.

"The crisis between herdsmen and farmers, in a few days time we shall begin running a programme paddock development here in FCT. We have got very good seeds of grass which we are going to start planting. Eventually and in the next one year, I hope we shall move‎ most of our cows into ranches and reserves depending on different terminologies people want to hear.

"Some people don't want to hear about grazing reserves and government has no intension of forcing anyone to surrender one inch of land. Some states are willing. We shall develop these things in their domain, cows will move in there, they will be given best grass for cattle. Most of these grasses contain 18 percent protein and amino acid. So, the cows can feed well, have the good water to drink and give us the best milk and beef."

To also achieve self sufficiency in food production, Minister Ogbe who spoke alongside Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan also hinted on federal government measures to beat the current economic quagmire by way of diversifying the economic.

According to him, council approved a document is titled "The Green Alternative" which outlined the agricultural road map.

"We have just concluded council meeting in which two issues were discussed. One is the roadmap for agricultural operations in the next three years, whi‎ch we presented to council today. It is a detailed document. It outlines our policies and our objectives in trying to see agriculture as the next biggest alternative in our drive to diversify the economy of this country.

"The document is titled "The Green Alternative" and it outlines virtually everything we need to do, every policy we need to undertake to achieve self sufficiency in agriculture and also to become major exporter of agriculture products.

"The situation which we we occupy many decades ago,‎ we are working hard on the staples to satisfy local production and we are fully aware that there is a major concern in the country for food self-sufficiency in the country and that there is crisis in many families as a result of serious shortage of food. But we are working hard ‎and thank God that ours has not become as bad as one South American country, which was also a major oil producing country.

"By that I mean Venezuela which situation is definitely a 100 times worst than ours. But the point is that where we are going, we believe that in a short while, another year and half in the maximum, we should be reasonably self sufficient in grains like rice, maize, beans. We may not achieve everything in wheat but we will be very close to our targets. Other things are also there in the roadmap. And that is what council endorsed this afternoon", he said.

Giving the statistics of imported food times and the one produced locally, Ogbe said the Nigeria was at the verge of achieving self sufficiency in tomato paste amongst others

"Food has many species and varieties. We import about 40, 50 percent of the rice we eat. At a time it was almost 100 percent costing $5 million a day. That was the situation for the last 20 years. We still import almost 70 percent of the wheat. For the bread‎, we import about 5 million eggs per day from South Africa and some other countries. But we don't import yams, garri, we don't import beans. We use to import beans from Burkina Faso, that has stopped.

We don't import chicken although smugglers are quite busy on the day. We import fish worth $600 million per annum, the numbers are reducing because the local fish production is increasing. We still import some tomato paste. We are going to halt that in the next three months because local production capacity is almost satisfactory now. This is because some of the paste coming in are of doubtful quality. The importers are going to be very insistence that we can't do it on our own but we will stand our ground.

"We import honey to the tune of about $100 million per annum. We still import cookies and biscuits and even toothpick but all these did not happen in one day. The idea is to reduce these imports. We import a lot of milk and some local production by Freasland and some of the policies we put in place will reduce and also eliminate. But we can’t achieve self sufficiency absolutely in the next one year but we are approaching there”, he said.

Similarly, NEC gave approval to a request by Kaduna State a government to allow it assume the ownership of two federal roads in Kaduna State.

The roads which were “Nnamdi Azkiwe Express Way and Ahmadu Bello Way” belong to the category of trunk “A” roads which crisscrossed Kaduna metropolis.

Minister of women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan said that the NEC approval of the request followed the presentation of a memo by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola.

She enjoined other State governments to follow suit to give the roads in their cities timely face lift

“Council also approved the memo presented by Minister of Power, Works, Housing and Urban Development for the re-designation of two roads in Kaduna State from being federal roads to State roads based on the request by the Kaduna State governor, to Mr. President to have the two roads mentioned, the Nnamdi Azkiwe Express Way that is the Kaduna bye-pass road as is popularly called.

“And then the popular Ahmadu Bello Way which runs across almost inside Kaduna town. These are presently Federal roads but he requested that there be re-designated as state roads so that they will have the power without any inhibition to work on the road to make them better for Kaduna indigenes.

“The council was very pleased with that approach because ordinarily other state governors should have requested for permission to repair and be reimbursed but he asked for outright handing over to the Kaduna state government so that they can take care of it as their own and asked the government to complete the eastern by-pass ‎which is outside Kaduna linking the north central to north western Nigeria. That was also approved by council because it is a welcome idea.

“The council also appealed to other state governments that can afford to take over federal roads to lessen the burden on federal government, to enable them repair and maintain road as quick as possible, so that they don’t go into total deterioration”, she explained.]]>

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