JThe Paikon Kore Grazing Reserve in the Gwagwalada Regional Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is one of the gazetted reserves in Nigeria.
The federal government has chosen the reservation to launch its National Pasture Development Program (NAPDEP) designed to allow ranchers across the country to develop farm pastures, including commercial pasture seed plots.
The objective was to create a culture of quality pastures for livestock along the forage value chain as one of the solutions to the persistent clashes between farmers and herders.
The federal government believes that due to competing land uses, increasing pasture and forage production to meet industry needs requires the development of seeded pastures supported by good management practices.
On Tuesday, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar flagged NAPDEP at the reserve and announced that every June 28 every year will be a pasture planting day in the country.
The minister explained the rationale for the federal government’s grazing program thus: “Over 95% of Nigeria’s ruminant production is primarily managed under the traditional pastoral system characteristic of the extensive system, where naturally cultivated pastures are the mainstay. main source of nutrition for animals. Therefore, herders and herders rely on mobility in search of food, water and friendly grazing areas; thus, the production system limits both production and productivity per animal, mainly due to the lack of year-round availability of feed and water resources, thus handicapping pastoralists’ ability to sustain themselves. install in a given place and produce.
“The result of this continuous movement in search of pasture has interfered with the animals’ ability to reach their optimum productivity and has constantly compromised our national capacity for self-sufficiency in livestock products and our needs for animal protein, in particular our national objective of 1.6 billion liters of milk per year.
“He has eluded our national peacebuilding efforts due to ongoing conflicts between herders and farmers along their travel routes. These have also been detrimental to improving the livelihoods of pastoral families in particular and neighboring farmers. »
The Emir of Muri in Taraba State and Chairman of the Board of the National Association of Producers, Processors and Distributors of Livestock and Pasture Feeds of Nigeria, Alhaji Abbas Tafida, who has invested heavily in pasture production, painted a graphic picture of the economic benefit of pasture as a key element in eradicating poverty and resolving tensions between communities.
Grazing, he said, was central to the ranching industry, “both left and right.”
“I would like to personally invite all my Fulani brothers and the minister to Gora to see a pasture established in the name of one of the ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. From this pasture the person only spent 7 million of naira to develop the pasture. We cut it, bag it and sell it. We are even ready for export.
“From Abuja to Kano, we send three grazing trailers to N2m every week. So, from an investment of N10 million, that person can earn the same amount every six days because you can cut the pasture four times.
“The pasture was developed in Brazil from our own andropogan grass (the most common gamba grass). Unfortunately, I was invited suddenly. I should have organized the bags so that my Fulani brothers could see and understand them,” Alhaji Abbas said.
The Emir of Muri stressed that grazing should be at the heart of the Ministry of Agriculture because “it does three things: produces grass for animals, some of the grass returns to the ground to create fertilizer, animals create organic fertilizer to support rice farming and everything else.
“These things have to be done right today because that’s what will build the future of the country.
“The second element is an analysis that I understood many years ago – Nigeria is divided into three: the southern zone which has a lot of water but has no land, the central belt, symbolized by Abuja , which has both land and water, and the far north which has plenty of land but not enough water.So the future of Nigeria lies in the development of grass in the Middle Belt and in its sale to the South which has no land and to the North which has no water With this we would eliminate all language of conflict.
“Let’s make grazing a beneficial economic element. For those who own land and water, we encourage them to grow grass and sell it to those who don’t own land and those who own land but don’t have water. Ultimately, we are building Nigeria’s economy,” he said.
The Chief Executive of the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), Dr. Philip Olusegun Ojo, opined that there must be a livelihood mechanism for scaling up and expanding the programme.
“The production of sufficient quantities of high quality pasture seed, available and accessible to pasture developers is very important,” he said.
He said the absence of a seed system for fodder and fodder crops to provide fodder and fodder seeds to pastoralists to enable more sedentary animal husbandry than the nomadic system was worrying.
“The NASC, as part of its mandate, has taken on the challenge of developing the pasture and forage crop seed production and delivery system to facilitate the continuous supply of these crop seeds to ranchers for the establishment ranches and paddocks,” he said.
Main facilities of the reserve
The pasture reserve has been equipped with a sheep and goat training center for small ruminants, a milk collection center, an emergency generator, a tractor, a fodder, planting plots for growing grass for livestock, among other facilities.
Gbagyi farmers who live in the area felt that the federal government had decided to favor Fulani herders, to the detriment of other sedentary farmers who live side by side in the community.
According to some leaders, the community has had schools and a clinic in ruins that have been abandoned or neglected for many years, but the federal government decided to show favoritism to the Fulani by developing the grazing reserve. They didn’t like it.
They also said that the government did not help them with fertilizers and other inputs.
In addition, they want the reserve to be fenced because the development of pastures will attract large herders, which will threaten the farms around the reserve.
However, a well-developed pasture in the reserve would be a key solution to the problems faced by herders and farmers in the country.
Stakeholders believe the federal government must also provide assistance to communities around the reservation to ease the growing tension.