THE Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, has maintained that the Federal Government will not forcefully take land from states to kick off cattle colony programme.
Ogbeh made this known at the weekend, which he refuted claims that alleges that the cattle colony programme was initiated to seize farm land and hand them over to Fulani herdsmen and said it was not true. According to him the intention behind the cattle colony was to provide safe haven for cattle to graze in peace, to be under controlled environment, prevent conflicts between farmers and herdsmen, and not to give people’s land to Fulanis. He said: “If any suspicion does arise, it is unintended and regrettable. We never meant and do not have the intention to seize anyone’s land by force. The Federal Government will not force States to surrender their land or force any of them to do what it does not like to do. “We have agreed to work together to create a new culture of cattle rearing different from what we have today. We are told that it is a custom of the herdsmen to be moving around. The current culture of open grazing is posing serious challenge and not too efficient.” Meanwhile, Growth Enhancement Scheme Agro-dealers Association of Nigeria, GESAAN, has expressed worry over looming food scarcity in Benue and Taraba State, and nationally following the recent killings carried by suspected herdsmen. This was stated by the National Chairman, GESAAN, Kabiru Umar, as he called for quick federal government interventions to cushion the effects on food production and prices in the market of affected areas. He said: “The clash between the herdsmen and farmers in Benue and Taraba States will definitely affect food production in that hat of the country. The problem of this country is we don’t have statistics or data base. In other advanced countries one can have data on the cultivation and output of produce per local government but not in our country. “Prices of commodities in the market will be negatively affected because the shorter the supply the higher the price, which we don’t want a situation where food will be brought into the country because Nigerians don’t want to hear that because if supply is less than demand then the prices will continue to go high and that will continue to affect salary earners and we cannot avoid that. “The way out is for the federal government to quickly come up with intervention programmes. Generally the government has food reserves they should bring in outputs so that it will cushion the effects on the affected areas.” He also urged government to show strong political will to deal with whosoever involved in the killings to serve as deterrent to others who want to go into such heinous crimes. “The government should also have the political will that whosoever is found culpable in the conflict should be dealt with. “We are also going to meet with the farmer’s associations on how we are going to come in to assist affected farmers for quick intervention in the affected areas”, he added.