Niger State Government says it will continue with the Bobi Grazing Reserve project, despite the invasions of gunmen who rustled hundreds of cows from the Reserve.
The Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, said although it was true that some armed men carted away cows from the Grazing Reserve, government has not abandoned the project.
In mid June this year, hundreds of cattle rustlers invaded the reserve and moved away large herds of cattle to an unknown destination.
The government was initially forced to close down the reserve located in Bobi, Mariga local government area of the state, to re-assess the situation but has now opened it for operation.
The SSG said, although the incidence was a set back which initially dampened the moral of state officials and their partners, the state government did not falter, which informed the decision to stay put and continue with the project.
“If you go to the reserve now, you will find all our partners there. We have reassessed the situation; took a lot of measures towards forestalling future occurence.”
The armed men, he said, came in large numbers and found herds of cattle grazing near the reserve. He said the cows stolen did not belong to the state government or to its partners, but to a serving cabinet member in the state and the owner put them there to benefit from the rich forage.
According to him “The State Government has invested a lot to attract investors to the reserve. The project was our pilot programme to help solve problems of herders/farmers crisis. We provided the land, hospital, water and school for herders and their animals.
“Our partners are also working to provide high yield grass, rich in nutrients, that will increase the milk production capacity of the cows. The CBN and others contributed in funds. The owner of the stolen cows brought them there to benefit from the rich forage there and unfortunately the incident happened to him,” he said.
The SSG further explained that although the companies were not formidably on the ground, none of them have deserted the reserve, saying their staff and equipment were still there “working on the pasture and nothing much has changed.”
On whether the State Government will key into the Federal Government’s recovery of grazing routes, the SSG said there was no grazing routes to recover, adding that ranching is the only solution.
He said 90 percent of grazing routes have been overtaken by urbanisation and other factors, asserting that most of what is today Abuja was a grazing route and colony.
He said the State Government will be in the opinion that the huge resources Federal Government will spend in recovering outdated grazing routes, should be channelled towards developing ranches and grazing reserves, stating, “This is the modern way of rearing cattle now.”
The reserve, by initial concept, has potentials for 45 billion dollars investment as it will house dairy giants, like WAMCO, producers of Peak milk, CAMPINA, Chi Ltd and others.