As part of efforts by the FCT Administration to address the persistent conflicts between crop farmers and pastiralists, FCT Minister of State, Dr Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, has flagged off a sensitisation campaign and distribution of supplementary feeds to pastoralists and farmers in the four grazing reserves of the territory.
The minister, who performed the ceremony in Wasa district of FCT, said the move by the administration was aimed at promoting integration, peaceful co-existence as well as boost livestock production in the nation’s capital.
Aliyu noted that the present administration, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, was determined to restore the lost glory of the agricultural sector, which had hitherto been somewhat abandoned following the discovery and adoption of oil as the mainstay of the Nigerian economy.
“It is estimated that Nigeria’s population will continue to witness exponential rise and attendant growth in the demand for food.
“To ensure that any uncertainties related to food security are adequately addressed, the Federal Government of Nigeria made the establishment and development of grazing reserves a key aspect of its Agricultural Promotion Programmes (APP) for the Country, with the livestock subsector playing a prominent role.
“The establishment and development of grazing reserves is therefore aimed at providing pastoralists and crop farmers with an integrated environment under which both can operate optimally, access their needs in a harmonious environment and eliminate issues that could result in conflicts.
“The overall objective is to promote peaceful coexistence towards harnessingthe huge potentials that exist in the livestock subsector,” Aliyu stressed.
The minister affirmed that in pursuant of this objective, the FCT Administration had been implementing programmes towards creating the enabling environment for the two groups as well as other willing investors to operate and make positive impacts in enhancing food security and socio-economic well-being of the residents.
She took the opportunity provided by the occasion to reveal that the FCT Administration had also been discussing with investors and development partners on the establishment of value chain ventures in the livestock subsector so as to develop needed infrastructure, create more job opportunities, enhance incomes, and improve lives and livelihoods of communities within and around the FCT’s grazing reserves.
Specifically, she said plans were underway, with the support of the African Development Bank (AfDB), to establish a model Special Agro-industrial Processing Zone (SAPZ) on livestock production, in the FCT, stressing that the SAPZ would grant the administration the wherewithal to bring to an end the indiscriminate grazing of animals in the Federal Capital City.
Earlier in his remarks, the FCT Permanent Secretary, Mr Olusade Adesola, said the FCT Administration had through its relevant agencies as well as other stakeholders been doing its best to bring the parties together to embrace peace especially in grazing reserves where much of the clashes occur.
The Permanent Secretary who was represented by the Director in charge of Operations, Planning and Strategy in the office of the Permanent Secretary, Mr Samuel Attang, noted that the dry season had been associated with increase in movement of pastiralists in search of feeds for their animals, adding that due to this movement, there might be likelihood of conflict between the two groups.
In his welcome address, the Acting Secretary of FCT Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat, Mr Ibe Prospect, stressed the importance of livestock sector in the quest to attain food security, noting that if the sector was well harnessed, it had the capacity to generate jobs and income as well as provide the nutritional value that was required for healthy human development.
He, therefore, commended the FCT Minister of State for demonstrating dynamism in addressing the issue, adding that the incidences of violent conflicts between pastoralists and crop farmers had hindered efforts of government to fully harness the potential of the sector towards achieving the desired objectives.