Federal Government says it will henceforth provide insurance and agro-rangers for ranch operators to curb cases of cattle rustling and farmers/herdsmen clashes across the country.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said this at a 3-day National Conference on the Transformation of the Livestock Industry in Abuja on Tuesday.
Osinbajo, represented by Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, noted that the 3,000 agro-rangers had been adequately trained to protect animals and the livestock from rustlers.
He expressed regret over the increasing number of cattle lost to rustling across the country.
The vice president said the rangers would be posted to ranches at no cost to the beneficiaries.
“On our part, for those who want to go into ranching, here is the good news; we have heard how many of you have lost money, 300 cows in one night to rustling.
“We have now put together a new security group called the agro-rangers. These rangers are being trained by the ministry of interior, they are heavily armed. Three thousand of them are being trained.
“If you start a ranch or you have a big agricultural project, approach us, we will post them to you at no cost to protect your investment.
“We do not want you to go into ranching only to hear one night that all your cattle were taken. We intend to give you insurance cover because we consider this industry serious.
“We need prosperity in that sector because we know that if it thrives, a great deal of good will be done to our country,’’ Osinbajo said.
On his part, Ogbeh said that agriculture was not only a government affair but also a private sector business.
He said the country had no fewer than 19 million cows, noting that the number was less when compared to other countries.
The minister, who noted that the livestock sector had been neglected over the years, said that growing grasses was a way of managing the sector.
“At the end of this conference, we will take the recommendations and seriously begin to implement them.
“We are talking with the World Bank and African Development Bank to see how they can help us. There is no way ranches will survive without grasses.
“We want this fight between farmers and herdsmen to stop and it must stop,’’ Ogbeh said.
Gov. Samuel Ortom of Benue, said the state was in the process of setting up ranches to develop the livestock sector.
The governor, represented by his deputy, Mr Benson Abounu, regretted that modern and scientific methods were not been adopted in livestock production, hence the dwindling of the sector.
Ortom, who described open grazing of cattle as `uncoordinated’, said that ranching was necessary to improve the quality of beef and livestock production in the country.
Gov. Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi, called on all stakeholders to assist herdsmen to develop ranches in order to reposition the livestock sector.
Bagudu called for a better funding scheme to transform the livestock industry in the country.
Also speaking at the conference, Dr Eric Igwe, the Ebonyi State Deputy Governor, said that juveniles were allowed to rear cattle in the state hence, the lack of control of the animals.
He said that legislation was underway in the state to curtail the act.
The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Alhaji Muhammed Bello, said that 220 veterinary doctors and 12 animal health officers had been engaged in the FCT to enhance animal health.
The minister, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mr Chinyeaka Ohaa, said the ministry had instituted plans to allow only live animals for slaughter in the FCT to stem the sale of contaminated meat.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 3-day conference was attended by stakeholders from the agriculture sector across the country.