The House of Representatives has called on the federal government to educate and encourage herdsmen on the benefits of ranching instead of the proposed cattle colonies in states of the federation.
Adopting a motion by Mohammed Onawo (Nasarawa-PDP), the House urged the federal government to consider a soft or subsidised loan scheme for cattle owners to buy land as a means of encouragement for them to ranch.
Mr. Onawo, a former speaker of the Nasarawa State house of assembly said the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers have posed serious security challenges in Nigeria.
“Most of those clashes stem from the practice of herdsmen roaming in the wild across the length and breadth of the country in search of grazing pastures for their cattle and as a result, trespassing into, and damaging crops in farms”
He emphasised that the decision to establish cattle colonies in each state could be in violation of Section 42 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and the Land Use Act as those colonies will remain the exclusive reserve of the individual state governments and as such, would not guarantee total freedom to the herdsmen.
He added that the ranching will offer longer lasting solution to the recurring conflicts between herdsmen and farmers, if the herdsmen would be fully sensitised and educated about the benefits of the program, as it would enable them assume full ownership of those ranches.
The House also urged the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources to liaise with state ministries of agriculture to speedily educate and encourage the herdsmen on the benefits of ranching.
The federal government had announced plans to commence the establishment of cattle colonies in states that have indicated interest.
Nigerians have expressed mixed reactions over the proposal for cattle colonies. Some states like Benue and Taraba, which have experienced clashes between farmers and herdsmen, have rejected the proposal, while others like Kogi and Kano supported it.