MINISTER of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh says the ministry will begin the paddock development (growing of special grasses for cattle) in August. Ogbeh told journalists on Wednesday in Abuja that the ministry had started bringing the special seeds of grass (fodder seeds) into the country, explaining that after some time, the country would become an exporter of the grass to earn foreign exchange. “The Saudi Arabia is asking that if Nigeria can grow enough grass they will buy to feed their cows,” he said. He assured that with the paddock development, the clash between farmers and herdsmen in the country would be put to an end. “The clash between farmers and herdsmen has been getting worse by the years and by the grace of God I will bring it to an end,” he said. He said that no farmer would allow his crops to be eaten by cattle. “No farmer in the world would like to plant his crops and arrive to see that cows have eaten everything up,” he said. The minister noted that the problem had persisted because over the years, successive governments had not done enough to put a check to it. He said that most of the conflicts were being perpetrated by Fulanis from some West African countries like Senegal, Mauritania, Mali and others. Ogbeh cited an instance where some of the herdsmen arrested could not speak any of the Nigerian languages, emphasising that there was a need for the country to end the herdsmen roaming with cattle, even if it was a culture. “Whether it is a culture or not we cannot afford it any more, it has to stop, the minister noted, adding that one culture could not become a source of conflict in the nation. He said that there were 415 gazing reserves spread across the country with Adamawa accounting for 73, adding that some were gazetted while some were not. The Agric Minister also said that many of them had been encroached upon, and that the FCT was one of the routes serving cattle going to the South-East and South-South from the North-West through Benue. He said that after the development of ranches, it would be an offence for any herdsman to allow his cattle to roam the streets. The minister said that land had been allocated to government in some states that would be used for ranches for herdsmen to acquire for their cattle, informing that cattle produce more litres of milk when they are kept in one place than when they walk about in search of food. He added that the ministry was collaborating g with the Ministry of Interior to provide security at the ranches to check activities of cattle rustlers.
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