Thursday, August 5, 2021 Nasarawa State made history in the National Livestock Transformation Plan implementation process, as it took a bold leap in launching the first ever pilot scheme in Baure village, Awe Local Government Area.
The event was no small feat as stakeholders expressed their joy that the plan has taken off eventually, in view of the benefits the plan promises to provide the people – especially the herders and farmers.
The National Livestock Transformation Plan conceived in 2018 as a solution to the lingering herder/farmer crisis across the country, has caused untold hardship in communities including social and economic dislocations as well as the loss of lives.
The National Livestock Transformation Plan had an earlier commencement year of 2019, with four (4) earmarked for the pilot scheme and they are Nasarawa, Plateau, Adamawa and Gombe states.
It was expected that the initial impact of the plan was going to be felt in the two initial years after pilot implementation take-off. And by the year 2028, the project would have been in full stream with its benefits impacting with great result in terms of rapid socio-economic development of the states implementing the plan.
However, the initial take-off was never to be because mutual suspicion from stakeholders, especially farming communities who suspected that the project was a land grabbing scheme aimed at taking away their ancestral lands, while pastoralists detested the project as a plan to alter their century long nomadic tradition which allows them to roam and graze about, coupled with technical and funding challenges, posed a significant threat to its take-off.
In the face of these daunting challenges overlooking the greater benefits the project promises to offer, His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule, the Executive Governor of Nasarawa State, chose to focus on the benefits the project promises to offer in view of the persistent herder-farmer clashes that plague the state.
For Engineer Abdullahi A. Sule, the project provides the right platform for addressing the lingering conflicts between herders and farmers, which for an administration that has plans for the industrialisation as well as wooing investors into the state.
In order to achieve acceptance by those directly involved, that is the farmers and herders, the visionary leader, Engineer Abdullahi A Sule had to think outside the box.
First he expressed his support and willingness to embrace the plan and implement it for the good of the people. This was followed by deliberate and concerted awareness and sensitisation meetings with stakeholders, especially herders and farmers on the need to embrace the plan. To demonstrate that the state means business, the governor constituted a steering team headed by the deputy governor, Doctor Emmanuel Akabe.
The tireless and relentless efforts by the steering team succeeded in putting in place systems and requirements expected from the state by the federal government and supporting partners.
These efforts by the Nasarawa State Government, provided leeway that qualified Nigeria for technical assistance from the Netherlands Government to include a funding support of €400,000
(Four Hundred Thousand Euros) as contained in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between President Muhammadu Buhari and the Netherlands Government during his visit to the country early this year.
As culmination of the fulfillment of all requirements and take-off of the National Livestock Transformation project pilot implementation in Awe Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, Government of Nasarawa State and indeed its people have demonstrated to the country and the world that it takes courage, will, drive and leadership to break new grounds in efforts to addressing societal challenges.
This assertion was evident in the disposition and glowing tributes by stakeholders at the event, who lauded the Nasarawa State Government for making the project take-off a reality.
The stakeholders included the chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture who happens to be one-time governor of Nasarawa State and senator representing Nasarawa West, distinguished Senator Abdullahi Adamu, representative of the Netherlands and who also doubled as representative of Dutch Consortium the technical partners from the Netherlands as well as the Ambassador of Argentina in Nigeria, the Emir of Lafia and executive governor of Plateau State, Simon Bako Lalong.
For President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by Minister of Agriculture and Water Resources, Mohammed Sabo Nanono the take-off of the National Livestock Plan in Nasarawa State represents the first genuine step aimed at addressing the herder/farmer conflicts and their attendant poverty, of which the Nasarawa State Government is taking the lead.
Also speaking at the launch, the chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture and former governor of Nasarawa State, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, applauded President Muhammadu Buhari for his visionary initiative and Engineer Abdullahi Sule for the courage to start the implementation of the plan in real terms.
He expressed happiness that attention is now focused on livestock subsector of the economy, with a view to harness the vast economic potentials inherent in the livestock sub-sector of the economy which is estimated to have two hundred million cattle with over thirty trillion worth of assets but hitherto grossly ignored.
The Nasarawa State Livestock hub which is seated on twenty-two thousand (22,000) hectares of land, is expected to house about 360 households. While about 96 pastoralists are said to be available to settle. Other features of the Model Hub are the provision of housing, banks, clinic and veterinary and security post.
The implementation of the plan by the State Government, asides the achievement of peace between herders and farmers, there is also the value chain effect in terms of quality meat and meat process factory, high quality milk production, the dung manure for the farmer, as well as employment opportunities.
The farmer can now afford to grow green grass to sell as feed, meaning the plan offers a new vista in agricultural practice away from the peasant farming practice. As a matter of fact, the model ranch provides opportunity for wealth creation for the state population, especially the restive youths.
The State Model Ranch will also serve as a model training centre. Under the current initiative, Cownexxion, the lead consultant in the bilateral collaboration, leading the Dutch Consortium, will serve as technical partner for the implementation of the NLTP pilot ranch in Nasarawa State and also other pilot states.
It is in the light of this that the visionary disposition of the state administration of Governor Abdullahi A. Sule, must be commended for embracing the plan and setting the pace in the implementation process.