FG releases N1bn grant to four states for pilot ranching


The Federal Government has released N1bn seed grant to Nasarawa, Plateau, Adamawa and Kaduna states for the development of pilot ranches in their domains as part of measures to halt clashes between herders and farmers.

It was learnt on Sunday that the fund was released after about 22 state governors indicated interest in developing ranches in their states.

On October 27, 2021, The PUNCH exclusively reported that no fewer than 22 states had written to the Federal Government to indicate interest in the National Livestock Transformation Programme.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Agriculture, Andrew Kwasari, who also coordinates the NLTP,  had told our correspondent at the time that the the Federal Government would start disbursing funds for model ranches in the next one week.

According to him, states whose governors had written the Federal Government include Kaduna, Benue, Taraba, Adamawa, Plateau, Zamfara, Kano, Ondo, Katsina, Bauchi, Yobe, Borno, Gombe, Nasarawa, Niger, Sokoto, Ekiti, Kogi, Ebonyi and Kwara.

Following incessant clashes between farmers and herders, the Federal Government in 2018 came up with various ranching models, including Ruga and the NLTP, to settle nomadic herdsmen, who are mostly Fulani.

In his latest response to a Freedom of Information request sent by The PUNCH on the details of ranching support funds to states, Kwasari explained that four states had received N1bn.

He also outlined the conditions that must be met before funds would be released to other states that had shown interest in ranching.

The NLTP coordinator said, “We write in response to your request for the above information, sequel to our earlier engagement with your team. In our last interview, it was stated that the Federal Government would be releasing ranching support funds to Nasarawa and Plateau states, not Bauchi.

“And yes, according to the timeline given then, the fund was released on November 2, 2021. A sum of N1bn was released as seed grant for the four states of Nasarawa, Plateau, Adamawa, and Kaduna through the Ministry of Finance Incorporated.”

Kwasari added, “This represents 80 per cent start-up fund for a pilot model ranch to be constructed for the training of pastoralist and crop farmer households within the grazing reserve and the state is expected to fund 20 per cent of the pilot.”

He explained that this percentage contribution was the major condition attached to the funding, adding that other conditions include the setting up of a State NLTP Company Limited at the state level.

“This is to facilitate the channelling of investments into the project. Of these fund, Nasarawa and Plateau states have accessed a sum of N232,000,000 and work has commenced at the project sites,” Kwasari said.

He added, “As for the release of funds to the remaining states in Tiers 2 through 4, the degree of preparedness of the state teams is a major determinant for the initiation of funds release.

“PACE (Project for Agricultural Coordination and Planning) secretariat is working with the state teams to achieve required level of preparedness upon which the request for seed funding is based.”

In October, the President’s spokesman, Garba Shehu, in a write-up in response to a story published by The Economist of London, said the Federal Government’s ranching programme had reduced insecurity in the country in the last 12 months.

He, therefore, urged state governors, who had not embraced the scheme, to do so.

Kwasari had told our correspondent in October that the first condition for participation by states in the NLTP was for them to write to the Federal Government.

The presidential aide had said, “I have the list of all the governors, who have written to participate in the NLTP. There are 22 governors, who wrote to express interest in the NLTP.

“That is the first condition in the NLTP document. This project is not just something that is done on paper. There are guidelines as approved by the National Economic Council.”

Kwasari said the government would support interested states, but stressed that the state goverrnments had their own contributions to make, as he further revealed that the PACE was working with the Dutch Government.

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