In the last decade, there has been increased incidences of farmer/headers clashes that have affected socioeconomic lives if Nigerians.
This development has been attributed to so many factors, principal among them is the Climate Change.
This has adversely taken its toll on vegetation, especially in the extreme northern part of the Country.
The impact of Climate Change has also rolled back the strength and reach of Lake Chad which has for ages been the pasture area for herders’ livestock.
The dwindling effect of the Lake Chad and population explosion, continue to put pressure on access to land use in the extreme North, leading to the mass movement of pastoralists (herdsmen) to other parts of Nigeria, especially the North Central, where they can readily access vegetation for their herds.
The resultant scramble for land by farmers and herdsmen has brought more misery than happiness. It has elicited crises of monumental proportion as intermittent clashes between farmers and herders continue to rise.
Worse still, is the springing up of so many settlement’s/villages which has distorted the traditional cattle grazing routes as they have been encroached upon to the extent that they have virtually disappeared.
This has contributed immensely to clashes involving herders and farmers in the struggle for farming and grazing land.
In order to find lasting solution to the menace of farmer/herder clashes, the Niger State Government under the leadership of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, took the bull by the horn, with the conception of 12 grezing reserves.
The Grazing Reserves waiting to get Bobi replica include; Sheyi in Shiroro Local Government, Iri in Rijau and Dabban in Lavun Local Government respectively.
The Bobi Grazing Reserve, located in Bobi, Mariga local government area of the state is transforming. The choice of Bobi Reserve is apt as it is just a stone-throw to Mariga which is the largest cattle market in the state, where transactions running into millions are carried out.
The Bobi Grazing Reserve alone is 40, 000 hectares, and the Niger State Government has resolved to make the state the hub of animal husbandry.
It wants to be in the lead in milk production, meat processing as well as pasture and feed production for cattle.
To demonstrate the passion that the government has towards the transformation of grazing reserves in the state, the state government through the Federal Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with FrieslandCampina WAMCO PLC, a giant Dutch dairy firm, Chi Limited, producers of Hollandia Milk. An Irish Dairy and Neo too are part of the scheme too.
It is expected that milk production starts in the state soon
The consultant handling the project is the Emir of Muri,
Taraba State, Alh. Abbas Njidda Taffida, owner of Taraba Farms, the biggest farm in Taraba State.
Having remained optimistic that the project would be achieved, he disclosed that the task of his company is growing 300 hectares of pasture to feed about 10 million cows in the state.
The Bobi Grazing Reserve project when it kicks off is expected raise the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the State by N45billion annually and if other grazing reserves are put in shape, the state will be economically viable and will no longer depend on the Federal Allocation which hitherto has been its major source of income.
Alh Taffida says they have begun the nursery planting of the new fast-growing Napier and Barachiaria grasses. The emir, a livestock farming specialist maintained that with the new species of Napier, one hectare of land will support 30 cows better than the old Napier where a hectare can only support 3 to 6 cows.
It means that every one hectare is being multiplied 12 times thereby multiplying the value of land in the 12 times, meaning that the value of land is also being multiplied 12 times too.
Massive land clearing is ongoing for pasture cultivation, the nurseries are set as replanting of the grasses is ongoing and agro rangers trained with most of them being the locals for the fact that they know the environment better.
When the project comes to fruition, Niger State alone will produce 10 million cows out of which three million cows will be producing milk daily.
t is estimated that there are about 20 million cows in the country,t therefore the State will be able to produce three to four million litres of milk daily. This means that virtually all residents of the State will have at least a litre of dairy with more left to be exported out. This will make the state a hub of fresh milk producers in the country.
At the moment, WAMCO is on site putting up the milk factory, a police outstation has been erected, access road created and e Clinic under construction to which resident will be provided health personnel,
Governor Abubakar Sani Bello has emphasized the need for midwives to be posted there as part of his desire to see an end to maternal infant mortality.
Already in the Reserve area, there is a nomadic school being run by a non-governmental organization while a government-owned school too, with the grazing is coming to live.
All other activities will also see the light of the day.
Aside the milk factory in the Bobi Grazing Reserve, the State government is responsible for the provision of all the facilities being put in place.
Irrigation Dam, which stretches as far as 2km, has also been constructed by the state government to solve the water need of the area. Plans are also underway to bring some species of fishes to be put inside the water. Luckily, the dam is so wide that the water will not dry up.
The Bobi Grazing Reserve has a takeoff date of February 2020. Governor Bello wants to see improved cattle brought in with the hope that this will add to the quality of milk and beef to be produced.
Undoubtedly, this will be a landmark achievement if it is achieved by the government. The state will see the coming of herdsmen in a cluster living side by side with the farmers as land is being prepared for those displaced as a result of the cattle that would be brought in.
The governor says the essence of establishing the grazing reserve is to train the herdsmen on how to live cordially with each other and maintain peaceful co-existence with the farmers.
The herders in the reserve have already embraced the idea of the system of grazing; they disclosed they are tired of moving around the country. They express the hope that some of their colleagues who are outside the state will return to the grazing reserve, even though they are aware that the reserve is to be operated on a commercial basis.
Job opportunities have already started in Bobi Reserve as those employed working there have started earning money to carter for themselves and their families.
When full milk and beef production starts the full commercial activities would have been ignited and wealth would have been created in the state.
Ibraheem, is Special Assistance, SA, to Niger State Government.