Open Grazing Ban: More Northern States Seek Funding to Build Ranches – THISDAY Newspapers
*Want conversion of grazing reserves to ranches
*Kwara seeks N10bn take-off grant for project
* We won’t ban open grazing, says Plateau
*No going back on anti-open grazing laws, Benue, Taraba
Seriki Adinoyi in Jos, Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano, Laleye Dipo in Minna, Hammed Shittu in Ilorin, Daji Sani in Yola, Igbawase Ukumba in Lafia, and Ismail Adebayo in Birnin Kebbi
With the resolutions of both northern and southern governors that open grazing was no longer sustainable, more states in the North have made a financial request to the federal government to build ranches, THISDAY’s investigation has revealed.
THISDAY also gathered that some of the northern states have also identified the grazing reserves in their areas, which they are seeking to convert to ranches.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent approval for the review of 368 grazing reserves in unnamed 25 states in the country was widely rejected by the southern states, as well as Benue and Taraba, which have insisted on ranching as an alternative to open grazing.
However, Buhari had in July approved N6.25billion for the establishment of ranches in Katsina State.
Governor Aminu Bello Masari had confirmed that N5billion of this amount was already in the account of the state government.
Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir-el Rufai, had also disclosed that if the federal government could provide N140 billion as support funding, the grazing reserves in the state would be converted to ranches.
He revealed that there are 14 grazing reserves in Kaduna, adding that it would cost over N100 billion to convert them to ranches.
“We have taken a position as northern state governors and we are implementing that. And in my state, for instance, we are developing a huge ranch to centralise the herders. And that is the solution, a long-term solution. But can it be done overnight?” he queried.
“This project we are doing will cost us about N10 billion. The CBN is supporting us with about N7.5 billion. And it will take about two years to do. We will be settling Fulani herdsmen and their families. These herders emanate from the north and we are going to centralise them,” he reportedly said.
THISDAY gathered that more states have also applied for funding to convert their grazing reserves into ranches.
While the Kwara State government told THISDAY at the weekend that it had requested N10 billion from the federal government, the Niger State government disclosed that it would require between N2 billion and N3 billion for the pilot project.
The Plateau State government, however, told THISDAY that it was fully prepared for the ranching project but would not ban open grazing in the state.
The Nasarawa State government, through the Permanent Secretary overseeing the state Ministry of Information, Mr. Yusuf Musa, told THISDAY in a telephone interview that the state government had received an undisclosed amount of funds for the building of ranches in the state.
According to him, the state government has already started converting all identified grazing reserves in the state to ranches, with the recent inauguration of the Awe Ranching Hub by President Buhari.
“The federal government has already given us our intervention fund and that is why we are working on the ranching hub in Awe. All our grazing reserves have been identified and they will all be utilised,” he said.
Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State has also expressed his administration’s readiness to establish ranches across the state if given financial support by the federal government.
Speaking to THISDAY through his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Bala Dan Abu, the governor disclosed that his administration is already working on establishing ranches in some parts of the state and would welcome any financial support from the federal government to replicate it in several parts of the state.
“We already have a law prohibiting open grazing in the state and the establishment of ranches is an integral part of it. We shall therefore support any effort or support by the federal government to establish ranches in the state. We are already working on establishing ranches in some parts of the state,” he explained.
Kano State Government has also identified five local government areas in the state to build ranches.
Out of the five proposed local government areas, the state government has constructed about 35 modern houses at Dansoshiya village in Kiru LGA and settled the Fulani herdsmen.
The state Chairman of Ruga Settlement Programme, Alhaji Jibrilla Mohammed, told THISDAY that the other four areas proposed for the ranches include: Duddurin village in Gaya LGA, Bichi, Dunawa in Makoda LGA, and Fanyabo in Doguwa LGA.
According to him, the state government has constructed houses and provided some social amenities in Kiru LGA to woo the Fulani herdsmen to relocate to the area.
He disclosed that the herdsmen were carefully screened before being accommodated in the area.
Muhammad further revealed that the state government had written a letter requesting funds from the federal government to help the state finance the settlement of Fulani herdsmen in ranches.
“Kano State government is so much ready to accept the fund to convert the vast lands in the state to ranches. The government has written to the federal government for funds and we have good plans for the herdsmen. We will do everything possible to make them comfortable,” he explained.
Niger State Commissioner for Livestock and Fisheries Development, Alhaji Haruna Nuhu Dukku, also told THISDAY at the weekend that the state government was “following up” on the grant being released to states for the development of grazing reserves in the country.
Duku explained that some states are asking for N2billion or N3billion, saying “when we get to the river we will know how to cross it”.
He explained that apart from the Bobi grazing reserves, the state has six other grazing reserves which are being developed.
“Apart from the Bobi grazing reserves which span over 36 000 hectares located in Mariga/Magama local governments areas, the government has designated six other reserves,” the commissioner said.
The other reserves are: Audi Kanchi in Lavun LGA, Sheyi in Shiroro LGA, Garin-Gabas in Rafi LGA, Gabi in Lapai Ndadokun LGA, Kpotun Woro in Agaie LGA and Iri In Rijau LGA.
The Plateau State government has also said it was fully prepared for ranching in the state, adding that the current grazing reserves in Wase and Kanam would give way to ranching in the state.
The state’s Director of Research and Documentation, Prof. John Wade, told THSDAY at the weekend that all the northern governors had embraced the concept of ranching, “because we believe that you cannot ban open grazing without providing an alternative.”
On funding, Wade said there are series of approvals given by the federal government but funding issues are still pending.
“What I know is that the FG, the state, and other foreign partners have their counterpart funds for it. While the FG pays 80 per cent, the state is 20 per cent,” he said.
Also speaking on the issue, the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Dan Majang said there are currently two grazing reserves in Plateau – “on in Wase and the other in Kanam, but ranching will take them over.”
“We are not going to ban open grazing. We would only make the ranches attractive with facilities like schools and healthcare centres, such that, on their own, they will abandon open grazing and embrace ranching,” he added.
The Permanent Secretary in the Adamawa State Ministry for Livestock Production, Alhaji Abdulrahman Tukur also told THISDAY that the state has 30 grazing reserves across the 21 LGAs of the state, stressing that if given adequate funding, the state government would convert the grazing reserves into ranches.
“It will take billions of naira to establish ranches in the state because establishing a ranch requires a lot of resources,” he added.
On its part, the Kwara State Government has disclosed that it has applied for a sum of N10billion to ensure full utilisation of the pilot grazing reserves in the state.
The Technical Assistant to Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq on Agriculture, Mr. Abdulquiwy Olododo, stated this in Ilorin while speaking with THISDAY.
“There are 16 grazing reserves in the state with one cattle ranch and this totals 147,000 hectares of land”.
Olododo noted that the N6.25 billion that was approved for Katsina State was for the establishment of livestock service centres to curb farmers-herdsmen clashes and also provide more economic value for the livestock value chain in the country.
“Kwara State has equally applied for the same funds for the same purpose. This is driven by the fact that the livestock value chain is a paramount sub-sector to our administration, as clearly spelt out in the Agricultural Transformation Plan. This is in line with the feasibility studies done by the state government to ensure full utilisation of the pilot grazing reserves in the state. The sum of about N10 billion was applied for”.
Kebbi State Commissioner for Agriculture, Alhaji Abdullahi Maigari Dakingari, also told THISDAY that the state Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Animal Health and Husbandry were working together to identify and revive the grazing zones and establish the ranches “to keep our Fulani herders in a place to avoid the clashes between them and the farmers.
“The ranches proposal will be a good idea that will work for Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, and Katsina in the North-west zone and we are ready to accept it. It’s a welcome idea to address the grazing issues,” he said.
“I won’t be able to tell you how much we will need to establish the ranches now since both the affected ministries are still working on it. But I can assure you that we will make it public as soon as we finalise all the paperwork and deliberation on it”, he added.
On his part, the Benue State Governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom, has insisted that if the President Buhari administration must actualise the cattle grazing reserves agenda or any other thing different from ranching, the government must be ready to kill everybody in the state.
He insisted that the state would not repeal its anti-open grazing law.
Sokoto State has also initiated a regional cattle ranching project, which will cost an estimated N3 billion on a 10-hectare expanse of land and will cater to more than 10,000 cattle.
The modern cattle ranch involves high milk-yielding cattle breeds from Brazil and high beef-yielding species from Argentina.
When crossbred with the Sokoto Gudali cattle breed, the species will yield higher milk and beef.