Federal Government had no intention of importing grazing grass for cattle into the country on a regular basis as people were meant to believe.
This clarification was made by the Senior Special Adviser on Media to the
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Kayode Oyeleye, at the Monthly Forum of the Nigeria Association of Agriculture Journalists (NAAJ), which held in Lagos.
Kayode, who spoke at the forum on the theme entitled “The journey of agriculture development in the country so far”, said: “I want to clear the misconception which some people held sometimes last year when the Federal Government wanted to import grazing grass into the country. It was quite a misconception by many that the government wanted to be importing grazing grass regularly to feed cattle. No, the government did not have such intention”.
“Actually, the intention of the government was to import the grazing grass for re-planting in lands reserved for cattle ranch so that the perennial lack of grazing grass for cattle nationwde would be eliminated.
“The FG had good intentions in this regard so that the problem of grazing grass would be solved once and for all in the near future. But some people misconceived the government’s intention to mean regular importation of the grazing grass.”
The special assistant threw more light on the issue of grassing. He used the opportunity to educate the public on why herdsmen go all out to find areas with grass for their cattle to graze, thereby clashing with farmers over damaging of crops by cattle.
He said that the popular belief that herdsmen attack only farmers in the southern part of the country is false, adding that it is the media that has made people believe so, which he said that the northern also been attacked by the herdsmen that are not reported.
“Grazing is more of reality. Many lands are being taken over by deforestation and erosion. Because of this, herdsmen go extra miles to find food (grazing grass) for their stock. They protect their animals from being attacked and stolen. Animals also stray into farms without the herdsmen knowing.
“The media reports more of incidents of herdsmen attacking farmers in the south than in the north. I am not rationalising or supporting the activities of these herdsmen. I totally condemn it. But in terms of media reporting, there is a glaring bias in favour of the south. Most of what happens in the north concerning herdsmen killing farmers is not reported in media, perhaps, because the media base is in the south.
“Many communities in the north also experience attack from herdsmen over their farms being damaged by cattle. Most of these herdsmen are not even Nigerians. Many are from the neighbouring countries like Chad, Niger, Cameroun, and Mali,” he said.
Against the background of incessant attacks of farmers by herdsmen, Kayode said that an agency, called Agro Rangers, has been put in place to check the excesses of herdsmen.
He said this agency was tasked with the responsibility of going into communities to fend off any form of hostility from the herdsmen and report it to appropriate authority for quick action.
Hear him: “An agency called ‘Agro Rangers’ has been put in place to go into communities to fend off any form of aggression by herdsmen against farmers of any village. Their job is to neutralize any form of hostility by herdsmen against farmers. Furthermore, most states have given lands for ranches, which will result no more roaming of animals.”