By Joy Odor
The Federal Government has launched the long awaited National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) in Nasarawa State, being the pilot state in the country to kick-start the programme initiated in 2018.
Nasarawa State governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, in company of his Plateau State counterpart and Chairman, Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF), Simon Bako Lalong, as well as the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, among other dignitaries, launched the Model Ranching Hub Project, in Awe Grazing Reserve, in Awe Local Government Area, on Thursday.
In a speech before the launching of the project, Nasarawa State governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, said the state decided to key into the NLTP, even before he came into office, because of security challenges, occasioned by farmers/herders conflicts along the boundary with Benue State.
“On arrival, we were faced with many challenges and one of the biggest challenges was that of security,” he stated.
According to the governor, Nasarawa State also decided to key into the scheme because of its inherent economic benefits associated with ranching.
Engineer Sule added that, the desire to maximally utilize the hitherto abandoned grazing reserves, which have become the hiding place for criminal elements, motivated Nasarawa State to adopt the NLTP.
He noted that, every state has grazing reserves, but that the security of the people is more important than ownership of any land.
While appreciating President Muhammadu Buhari, for making the scheme a reality, the governor appealed to the Federal Government not to limit the commencement of the NLTP to Nasarawa State, but to ensure it takes of in Wase, Plateau State, as well as the other two states identified for the take-off of the project.
He particularly thanked the Netherlands government, for also keying into the NLTP and for the financial support to make the project a reality.
Also speaking, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammed Sabo Nanono, commended the Nasarawa State governor for not only accepting the initiative from the Federal Government, but for working tirelessly, to accelerate the launching of the NLTP first model ranching hub project in Awe.
Nanono underscored the challenges confronting the nation’s livestock sector, ranging from poor productivity, resulting from poor land management, climate change, outdated animal husbandry practice, among others, which all together became a recipe for the breach of peace and security, due mostly to incessant clashes involving farmers and herders.
The worsening security breaches, according to the minister, necessitated for a holistic resolution that will cater for not only improved productivity in the livestock subsector, but also justice, security, recovery for victims of violent clashes, as well as human capital development.
Earlier, in an overview of the project, National Coordinator and Senior Special Assistant to the President on Agriculture, Dr. Andrew Kwasari, said the essence of the NLTP is to gradually develop the livestock subsector.
Kwasari explained that, the Awe model ranching hub, will demonstrate ranching to the pastoralists and take them in batches, at household level and put them through the know-how.
In a goodwill message, the Dutch Ambassador in Nigeria, Harry Van Dijk, said the NLTP was a fallout of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between President Muhammadu Buhari and a consortium in Netherlands, to develop ranching in Nigeria.
The event was witnessed by dignitaries from within and outside the state, including Nasarawa State deputy governor, Dr Emmanuel Akabe, who chaired the local committee for the project, former governor of the state, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, the Senate Committee Chairman on Agriculture.
Others are, Argentinian ambassador to Nigeria, Emir of Lafia, HRH Justice Sidi Bage (rtd), Emir of Awe, HRH Alhaji Isa Abubakar Umar II, as well as the Emir of Azara, HRH Dr. Kabir Musa Ibrahim II.