The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has come up with an explanation of the new policy of establishment of cattle colonies, against the earlier idea of ranching, across the country.
He said the policy would not transfer communal land ownership to Fulani herdsmen wherever it is established, but coming as a strategic measure to curbing the incessant bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers.
It would be recalled that following the pronouncement of this new policy last week by Chief Ogbeh, there have been concerns and speculations that there was an ulterior motive and a grand plot by the government to forcefully collect communal land nationwide and hand over to the marauding herdsmen.
Chief Ogbeh, while receiving the Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong in his office, said that there was no truth in the speculation that government was conspiring to grant supremacy over communal land to Fulani herdsmen.
“Cattle colony is not using Fulani herdsmen to colonize any state. It is going to be done in partnerships with state governments that would like to volunteer land for it. The federal government will fund the project and those wishing to benefit from it will pay some fees”, he said.
Ogbeh, maintained that the idea of the cattle colony was conceived both as a measure to stop the herders /farmers and a platform for government to make more commitments to the development of the livestock subsector.
According to him, while cattle ranching is more of an individual venture for the herdsmen and those wishing to invest in the livestock sector, cattle colonies is a larger project where up to 40 ranchers can share the same facility that will be provided by the government at a reduced rate.
The agriculture minister disclosed that about 16 states have volunteered land for the cattle colonies.
The Minister also stated that the idea behind government funding the project is to facilitate the development of agriculture value chain with the modern facilities that will be in the cattle colonies.
“Ranching is more of an individual venture for those who want to invest, but cattle colony is bigger in scope and size. It is going to be done in partnership with states government who wish to be part of it. Already 16 states have volunteered land. Nobody is going to seize land from any community for the project”, he noted.
Earlier in his remarks, Pleautue state governor, Simon Lalong, who confirmed that he was in the ministry to understand the New policy of cattle colony, said that his state will participate in the project, provided it has the lasting solution to the herdsmen and farmers clashes.
While allaying the fears of a forceful collection of lands from the owners, Governor Lilongwe said that though the Land Use Act of the country invests the right of ownership on the Governor of the state, no community will be made to loose ancestral home for any purpose to anybody.