By Anselm Okolo
At a time many governments are grappling with how to get a firm hand around the problem of farmers – herders clashes and its attendant loss of lives, farm produce and farming hours, Governor Tambuwal has quietly and innovatively used grazing reserve to deal with the issue in Sokoto state.
The state government under Governor Tambuwal has symptomatically introduced the scheme as a permanent solution to incessant clashes between the two strong drivers of economic growth in the state
According to Mohammed Arzika Tureta, Commissioner for Agriculture “ 10 out of its 19 grazing reserves have so far been revamped” and “demarcated more than 400 kilometres of the grazing reserves so as to prevent encroachment.”
Yes, but the state government had loftier gains in mind. First was to reclaim the massive land from abandonment for many years.
The second was to put it to its original intended purpose. “This was followed with planting of pasture and provision of water in these grazing reserves so that our pastoralists don’t have to move to anywhere outside the state”
As a result, farmers in the state now conduct their business without worrying about herders moving their animals onto their farmlands.
“Animal movements are now controlled by official routings which are clearly demarcated and signposted” Commissioner Tureta said adding “this has brought about relative peace and cooperation between farmers and herders in the state”
Other facilities are being introduced on the reserves to serve the educational, health and social needs of the pastoralists. According to a development plan for the reserves, in a few years from now, the reserves will become economic clusters on their own and could also serve as tourist locations in the state for people from other states to visit.
The plan outlines that the state would like others to see how pasture can be turned into a huge revenue earner for government and the pastoralists.
Technology and modern methods of pastoring are also been introduced on the reserves by the administration of Governor Tambuwal.
“We want to demonstrate to the herders that what we are offering on the reserves are financially more beneficial to their old ways. The commissioner said pointing out that “all efforts are being made to ensure that artificial insemination and embryo transfer is carried out on the reserves in the state” to increase milk and meat yield of animals on the reserves.
Under Governor Tambuwal, the state has also revamped its abandoned Cattle Breeding Program by bringing in 117 new cattle that consist of Jersey, Brangus, and cross breed of Holtsien and Jersey breeds to the designated animal habitats in the state.
Currently 90 percent of the female animals have calved and the 13 cluster farmers that benefited from this program are reaping the fruits of Governor Aminu Tambuwal’s intervention as the 1 to 3 litres of milk produced by individual cattle has now risen to between 10 to 30 litres per cattle while the breed for meat is expected to weigh up to 500kg or more as against 100 to 250 kg.
According to commissioner Tureta the downstream impact of the programme on the wellbeing of farmers and herders in the state has been colossal.
“This has brought more income to farmers and boosted economic activities in the state as well as generated more jobs to our teeming youth” in addition “to pasture production where over 5000 hectares of land has been cleared for production of animal feeds for the cluster farmers and other pastoralists”
Equally of note is the fact that Sokoto State now holds the distinction of being the first in the world to produce cross breed of Brangus and Sokoto Gudali breeds of cattle. The state has also been able to cross breed between Jersey and Sokoto Gudali which will improve both meat and milk production in the state
In the area of agricultural cooperation, Governor Tambuwal has recorded some remarkable milestones. For instance, he initiated and led delegation of Agricultural Professionals from the State to China during which he signed a letter of intent for the construction of an Agricultural Science and Technology Demonstration Park with the Henan Province of China. He also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a Distance Learning Class of 300 students on Grain Food Security with Henan University of Technology. The programme is domiciled at the Umaru Ali Shinkafi Polytechnic Sokoto. The 300 students have since graduated.
During the visit he similarly signed the Memorandum of Understanding with the China Agricultural Machinery Corporation, CAMACO, for provision of access to the Concessionaire Loan from China under the platform of the China – Africa Development Fund (CADF).
The loan is being facilitated by the Federal Government to resuscitate and grow the productive sector, strengthen the economies of states and the FCT up by over $118 million worth of farm machinery and support for infrastructural development
Under Tambuwal the Community Based Agricultural and Rural Development Programme (CBARDP) has increased in value of government support and visibility.
This followed government’s investment into the programme of over N178 Million by way of counterpart funding. Over 482,386 beneficiaries, most of whom are poor and vulnerable have benefitted under the programme.
Other governmental expenditure in agriculture under Governor Tambuwal includes the procurement of 15,000 litres of pesticides for the control of both field and domestic pests worth N45 Million, procurement of grains in 2019 at the cost of N230,422,500.00, procurement of grains in 2017 at the cost of N195,835,000.00, procurement of agrochemicals in 2016 worth N55,000,000.00, purchase of fertilizer for 2019 at the cost of N2,274,300,000.00, procurement of improved vegetable seeds in 2019 at the cost of N13,274,300,000.00 and purchase of sesame seed for 2020 wet season at the cost of N27,000,000.00.
Beneficiaries of the state government’s intervention under agriculture are huge. Under the FADAMA 11 and 111 interventions, a total of 27,641 farmers (24,021 males and 3,620 females) were registered with the project and 27,141 supported from 2015 to 2018.
A total of 2,074 Business Plans were prepared, developed and approved, out of which 2,069 Business Plans (1,422 Rice, 392 Sorghum and 255 Tomato) were implemented with 99.8% success rate since 2015.
Similarly, a total of 27,591 farmers have benefitted from the several capacity building activities facilitated by service providers since 2015.
The Agricultural Equipment Hiring Enterprise (AEHE) Centre located at Kware LGA have since been rejuvenated and providing mechanization services to 2,069 production groups across the state, and in compliance with the repayment agreement of the four (4) Tractors supplied to Sokoto State AEHE Centre, the Federated Fadama Community Association (FFCA) management had fully paid all outstanding monies.
Beneficiaries have been smiling to the bank with improved average yields of 4.5 tonnes per hectare, 2.4 tonnes per hectare and 23 tonnes per hectare for rice, sorghum and tomato, respectively, against baseline yields of 3 tonnes per hectare, 1.2 tonnes per hectare and 15.9 tonnes per hectare for rice, sorghum and tomato.
Tureta says the successes recorded by the government are traceable to the leadership of Governor Tambuwal who prioritised planning and data driven interventions by government.
“HIS Excellency insisted on all our programmes being led by data from the enumeration of farmers in the state and supported by feasibility by all farmers requiring support, so we have avoided wastage and wrong financing”
For instance, the commissioner said all government’s intervention under the FADAMA III programme were guided by data and feasibility. “we prepared and approved 15,885 business plans for both wet and dry season, covering 13,801 hectares across various production clusters (180 Nos.)” adding “we also trained farmers, facilitators and rural women in various aspects of the value chains”
Anselm Okolo is a journalist based in Abuja and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org