Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, has said that the establishment of cattle colonies across the 16 states that donated 5000 hectares of land each will commence this week.
the Minister, who disclosed this when he visited the agriculture and veterinary complex of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, stated that states which are not interested in the idea would be exempted.
The 16 states that donated lands for the Cattle colonies includes Adamawa, Kano, Katsina, Zamfara, Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Borno, Jigawa, Yobe, Niger, Kogi, and Kwara state.
Ogbeh, however, denied accusations that the Federal Government Cattle Colony Programme is designed to seize local farm land and hand them over to Fulani herdsmen; saying nothing could be further from the truth.
“One of the problems we have today is the conflict between farmers and herdsmen. If we don’t deal with it quickly, we run the risk of damaging the harmony and cohesive existence of Nigeria as a country. The killings are getting too much and frequent”.
“When we speak of colonies, we are immediately greeted with reactions that this was an attempt to seize Nigerian land, hand them over to Fulani- herdsmen to colonise.
“The intention is not for Fulanis or anyone for that matter to colonise any territory.
“It is to provide safe haven for cattle to graze in peace, to prevent conflicts between farmers and herdsmen. 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 Minister also recalled that early last year, letters were sent to all State governments, asking how many of them are interested in such Programme; of which a large number responded; some saying they have no land to give while 16 affirmed their interest to participate and pledged to make land as much as 5 hectares available.