President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday promised to end the roaming of cattle across the country within the next 18 to 24 months.
The President said that special grass seeds would be imported from Buhari Brazil to create enough grassland in the country for cows to feed.
Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, spoke in Abuja on Tuesday at the 9th Regional Implementation Forum for International Fund for Agricultural Development-supported projects in West and Central Africa.
Buhari urged cattle breeders to desist from the habit of taking their livestock to graze on farmlands belonging to farmers.
This, he said, had resulted in various clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farm owners which have claimed hundreds of lives.
He said: “This is why our government has decided that grasslands in large portions around the country will be created and improved grass seeds will be brought in from other countries which have gone ahead of us to create the desired grass that will make it unnecessary for the herdsmen to roam. So in the in next 18 to 24 months, we assure you that there will be no roaming cattle in this country.”
“We need young women and men who can invest in cattle rearing and in milk production as this must not be left only to the Fulani herdsmen. Feeding the cattle has been an issue which we as a people need to address.
“We have given support to rice, wheat and cassava farmers; also to cocoa producers and have done very many for the cattle herdsman.”
The president said that Nigeria spent a whopping $20 billion annually on food importation while $5million is spent daily on rice importation.
Buhari, who expressed worry at the country’s food import bill, said that Nigeria import almost everything ranging from tomato paste to tooth pick, banana, mangos, tomatoes, rice, wheat, sugar among other things where the country has comparative advantage to produce.
The president urged participating governments at the function to invest in their youth population, as he noted that the high level of rural-urban drift had resulted in massive depletion of the youth population in the rural sector and accentuated rural poverty and regional imbalance.
He said: “While our ageing farming population is attuned to the traditional methods of agriculture production, the increasing complex agricultural value chains, grades and standards that are integral to agricultural transformation today require the emplacement of a new generation of farmers, favourably disposed to innovation and risk taking.
“One of the ways to address this urgent concern is to accord priority attention to the transformation of agricultural production in the rural areas, with the youth population as the agent of change and transformation,” he added.”
In his address, the President of IFAD, Dr. Kanayo Nwanze, urged participating countries at the forum to create opportunities for African youths, particularly in agriculture.
He urged government to invest massively on rural farmers in order to make the area economically viable.
“We need the youth of today to be the farmers tomorrow but for that to happen, we must transform our rural areas. The benefits of rural transformation reach far and wide. All of us stand to again when there is a flow of goods, services and money between rural and urban areas.
“By investing in rural transformation we can create a range of opportunities for young people in our rural areas so that they are not compelled to migrate to urban centres and big cities where they too often fall prey to divisive rhetoric and extremism.”
He said Africa spends $35 billion annually importing food, whereas the continent has over 200 million youths whose skills could be gainfully harnessed in the agricultural sector.
Dr. Nwanze said: “By importing food, it means we are paying people to grow food and thereby increasing poverty in our countries in Africa. This must stop and we must develop our people in other to feed ourselves with what we grow as food.”