By Okechukwu Nnodim
President Muhammadu Buhari has promised that in the next 18 to 24 months, no cattle will roam about in Nigeria.
The President said that the Federal Government had mapped out grazing areas where herdsmen would be restricted to, adding that grass seeds would be imported and planted in the grazing reserves.
The President, who was represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, made the promise in Abuja on Tuesday while delivering the keynote address during the 19th Regional Implementation Forum for International Fund for Agricultural Development-supported projects in West and Central Africa.
Buhari stated that it was high time cattle breeders desisted from taking their livestock to graze on farmlands, stressing that this had led to clashes that claimed many lives.
He said, “This is why our government has decided that grasslands in large portions around the country will be created and improved grass seeds will be brought in from other countries, which have gone ahead of us to create the desired grass that will make it unnecessary for the herdsmen to roam about. So in the in next 18 to 24 months, we assure you that no cattle will roam about in this country.”
The President added, “We need young women and men who can invest in cattle rearing and milk production as this must not be left only to the Fulani herdsmen. Feeding cattle has been an issue, which we need to address. We have given support to rice, wheat and cassava farmers; also to cocoa producers.”
Buhari urged participating governments at the function to invest in youths, noting that the growing rural-urban drift had resulted in massive depletion of youth population in the rural areas.
“One of the ways to address this urgent concern is to accord priority attention to the transformation of agricultural production in the rural areas, with the youth population as the agent of change and transformation,” he added.
In his address, the President of IFAD, Dr. Kanayo Nwanze, urged participating countries at the forum to create opportunities for African youths, particularly in agriculture.
He said Africa spends $35 billion annually importing food, whereas the continent has over 200 million youths whose skills could be gainfully harnessed in the agricultural sector.
Nwanze said, “By importing food, it means we are paying people to grow food and thereby increasing poverty in our countries in Africa. This must stop and we must develop our people in other to feed ourselves with what we grow as food.”