Food Insecurity: FG, State Govts Tasked on Establishment of Safe Grazing Sites

Following the prevalent hardship and hunger in the country partly attributed to banditry attacks on farmers, cattle rustling and kidnapping among others, the Arewa Economic Forum (AEF), has called for the establishment of Safe Grazing Areas (Sites) in the North where cattle can be reared under protection as well as farming. 

Chairman of the forum, Ibrahim Shehu Dandakata, disclosed this in Abuja noting that concerted efforts are necessary to combat food insecurity in the country, given the prevalent hunger among citizens.

He emphasized that there is urgent need for a secure environment for cattle rearing to address the issues of banditry and cattle rustling, which contribute to protein shortages.

His words, “Whether we like it or not, the issue of hunger is real, and this is undoubtedly linked to the insecurity in the North, which has resulted in the abandonment of 60% of arable land in the region for more than five years.

“Consequently, the cost of protein has skyrocketed, and cattle rustling, which has escalated to banditry, significantly contributes to the people’s ordeal.

“Moreover, since crop farming and cattle rearing have been devastated by insecurity, it is imperative that all hands are on deck to overcome this situation.

“Although our solutions may not be exhaustive, they will undoubtedly pave the way forward.

“Firstly, we must establish safe enclaves for cattle rearing where you have water, security and all the facilities needed to make such enclaves operational.

“Noting, that the first victims of banditry are the Fulani’s; with bandit-Fulani’s victimizing non-bandit Fulani’s who are legitimate pastoralists, he said, “Such safe enclaves, in the form of grazing reserves, will provide a haven for Fulani, with the government offering necessary support.

“There will also be collaboration with the private sector and NGOs to ensure adequate security and prevent encroachment by foreigners.

Regarding food insufficiency, crop production and farming, he said, “thousands of hectares lie fallow across northern Nigeria, and the solution lies in fully empowering the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) to fulfill its mandate.”

“At the economic level, any imports will require necessary dollars, which are in short supply in Nigeria. As a non-producing nation, our demand for foreign exchange far exceeds the available supply.

“Therefore, even if the government permits importation, the necessary dollars are not available, making this solution untenable. While it might offer temporary relief, we must address the root causes at the grassroots level.”

On plans by the military to provide security for farming, the chairman said, “The Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has a dedicated unit, the Agro Rangers, who have been performing well.

“However, our defence agencies are overstretched. By providing a secure enclave for farmers, we can ensure their safety and security.”

Vanguard/ Oluwabusayo Oyinloye

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