Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, has explained what he meant by the term ‘cattle colony’ as the only solution to the protracted clash between Fulani herdsmen and farmers.
The minister insisted that cattle colonies being suggested by his ministry remained the only panacea in sight to ending the recurring war.
Ogbeh had on Monday said Federal Government had resolved to establish cattle colonies in a bid to put an end to the persistent Fulani herdsmen, farmers’ crisis across the country.
According to the minister, facilities such as grass and water will be provided to take care of herdsmen and their cattle.
Speaking with DAILY POST yesterday in his Abuja home, Ogbeh said Nigerians had largely misunderstood the concept of cattle colonies thereby, misinterpreting it with sensational reportage in the media as extending Fulani colonialism.
He revealed that the cattle colonies being talked about does not transfer land ownership to Fulanis and was not a new concept since the British had in 1942 proposed same even before Nigeria became an independent nation.
He said this was why the Obudu Cattle Ranch was established, a gesture that made founding fathers like Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello to set up ranches in Akunu and Mokwa and most recently Governor Mimiko in Anuga.
“In biology, you have animal colonies, you have bees, snake colonies and in some places crocodiles. Once there is a large concentration of any species of animals whether artificial or natural you call them colonies.
“A colony is much larger and viable, cheaper and safer because the colonies will have several ranches in them where the government is ready to provide water and feed at subsidized rates for the herds with the view to increasing their yields.
“We have chosen to embark on cattle colonies because we want to supply water to cows, because the grass they eat is not just any kind of grass. Cows are very selective about the grasses they eat, even if they are not, the quality of grass they eat determines the quality of beef and milk you get”
“For the purpose of succeeding in this project, seeds of grasses have been gotten from Argentina, Brasil and the US and domesticated on a large scale”, he said.
Chief Ogbeh further explained that the government was not forcing any State to donate lands for the project but that those who understood the concept were donating lands for the takeoff.
“One third of the cows moving in the bush have Bovine TB and they can transmit same to human beings.
“In Holland one cow in the summer consumes one hundred litres of water per day so when a cow is heading from Maiduguri to Lagos on foot and doesn’t have access to ten litres of water in a week, that’s torture and explains why we have the lowest yield of milk in West Africa.” He added.