The Federal Government has set aside N940m to be spent on grazing reserves across the country despite growing opposition to its establishment.
There have been reports that the government is considering the establishment of grazing reserves across the country as a way of ending Fulani herdsmen attacks on farmers and residents of their host communities.
The proposal has, however, met stiff resistance from individuals and some state governments especially in the southern part of the country, who believed that the creation of grazing reserves would give the rampaging herdsmen the opportunity to increase their attacks.
The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Archbishop Adewale Martins; and a former General Secretary of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, Archbishop Joseph Sunday, are among those who have opposed the proposal to establish grazing reserves across the nation.
They said instead of establishing grazing reserves, the Federal Government should build cattle ranches in states where cattle rearing is the major occupation.
Also, Oyo and Ekiti states have made public their opposition to the creation of grazing routes, with both states saying they had no land for the routes in their states.
In a similar vein, the grazing reserve bill is still being debated in the Senate and House of Representatives.
Some stakeholders, except the Miyetti Allah, the umbrella body for the cattle rearers in the country, have advocated the creation of cattle ranches to curb the movement of herdsmen and stop the attendant destruction of crops and the loss of lives.
According to the details of the 2016 Budget, made public by the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo-Idoma, on Thursday, however, the development of strategic grazing reserves is one of government’s priority projects for the year under agriculture.
This is an indication that the Federal Government may have decided to go ahead with its plan despite the opposition.
According to the budget details, the government will spend N940m on the project in 2016.
The document is, however, silent on the number of such grazing reserves that would be developed and where they would be located.
It said the project, among others, was in pursuit of the nation’s goal of self-sufficiency and food security.
It also noted that N1.3bn would be spent on supports for 187,500 farmers; another N1.3bn would be spent on rural roads; N939.7m for extension services; and N940m for price stabilisation/buy-back/price guarantee scheme.