The Federal Government will soon create grazing zones across the country with a view to checkmating herdsmen/farmers clashes.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, stated this in Abuja on Tuesday during a news conference on the frequent clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
“Federal Government would create grazing areas in the country where the herdsmen would take care of their cattle.
“We will grow special grasses in the South to feed the cattle in the North, just as it is being practiced successfully in some parts of the world.’’
He said Nigeria was the only country in Africa in which cattle roamed about and trekked long distances to feed.
He said that cows in Nigeria produced the least milk in the world despite having good breed.
“They produce about one litre of milk per day per female cow, this is not good enough.
“We are reducing their productivity level by making cattle to trek from Maiduguri to Lagos because too much of exercise affects their productivity.
“We have good species of cows but we still spend N1.3 million to import milk to the country on a daily basis.
“You are all aware of what is currently happening in my state, Benue.
“We need to map out grazing areas fast as a temporary solution to the frequent conflicts until cattle owners see the need to adopt other means of rearing their cattle’’, he said.
The minister also stressed the need for all year round farming in order to boost the sector and improve the country’s yield.
“We need to develop more dams and canals across the country so that agriculture becomes an all year round activity and not confined to the rainy season alone.
“Irrigation gives better yields because you can control the water supply level. We have a lot of dams across the country but are not put into proper use.
“If we continue with the current rate of one crop per year with very low mechanisation, Nigerians risk not attaining self-sufficiency in food production soon.
“We are also collaborating with the states to specialise in two crops they have comparative advantage in to improve productivity’’, he said.
Ogbeh added that he would soon come out with a soil map of the country to enable farmers to know the type of fertiliser suitable for his/her farm and know how to apply same for good yield.
He stated that a lot of activities were ongoing to make agriculture attractive to youths and for them to see it as a business.
He said there were ongoing youth programmes at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and urged those interested in agriculture to make use of the opportunity.
“We are working tirelessly to return Nigeria to where she was in the 60`s and 70`s by increasing extension services in every local government across the country.’’
The minister noted that the country had less than 300 tractors serving all the farmers while countries like Europe and USA were completely mechanised.
He said from the statistics, there were 800 million hectares of farm land in the world with 400 million of the farm lands from Africa.
He, however, stated that the Federal Government was working hard to reposition the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria and 19 research institutes across the country to return to their core mandate.