The world today has many farmers that owe no farms. Thanks to different investment options, people can invest in farming while others manage those farms for them. Many farmers you know today were able to generate their capitals through investors, who could not lift hoes but hoped to reap proceeds from their farms. This method is also obtainable in livestock farming, where a person rears animals through a third party.
In addition to farming through a third party, farmers have discovered that they must not own a large expanse of land before they go into commercial farming. This tradition has been in existence for a long time. Even our forefathers “borrowed” farmlands and crops from others for an agreed sharing formula. Sometimes, the agreement is that all the farm produce will be shared equally between the lessor and the lessee. In most cases, legal landowners take the best economic crops on the farm and then leave the rest for the poor farmers. This arrangement is also found in livestock farming and has been sustaining farmers, especially those that lack land and seed capital.
Presently in Nigeria, a lot of people want to go into the farming business but they cannot afford to buy lands for that purpose. Leasing may not be a wonderful option considering that the high demands for land made it expensive. Even though some landowners rent out their properties at cheaper rates for this purpose, they are barely enough for the number of persons that need them. Apart from that, such arrangements may not suit commercial farming because the size of land allotted to farmers may be too small for anything other than subsistence agriculture. Livestock farmers also encounter this difficulty and it hinders their progress. This is one of the reasons farmers always call for government intervention towards providing land for agricultural purposes.
Apart from the land challenges, food crop farmers have complained bitterly about the encroachment of their farms by Fulani cattle herders, whose animals destroy their crops as a result of their open grazing method. The destruction of crops has led to several clashes between the herders and the farmers and has resulted in the death of many. Efforts made by farmers to discourage open grazing have led to multiple face-offs with herders and had shown no sign of stopping the problem. This means that only government intervention can stop the menace of open grazing in the country. To solve this problem as well as to provide land for livestock farmers, the government launched the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), an initiative that can answer the prayers of many farmers when it becomes operational.
NLTP is a scheme adopted by the National Executive Council (NEC) on 18 January, 2019. It is an initiative designed to partner with interested state governments to provide land for livestock farmers to practice their profession. Through this programme, livestock farmers, including the controversial Fulani herders (and their employers), will have access to land for ranching. The good thing about this scheme, when it starts fully, is that it will make land available to farmers at a considerably cheap rate. This means that Nigerians that wish to try their luck in livestock farming will have a place to do so.
However, the controversy surrounding the Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) scheme has found its way into NLTP. Some Nigerians believe NLTP is the baptismal name for RUGA. They believe the Federal Government repackaged the RUGA agenda in NLTP, whereby the government will ‘grab’ land from citizens and hand it over to Fulani cattle herders. As much as it is understandable for Nigerians to become sceptical of new initiatives, especially when they come from the government, they should understand that NLTP did not specify that the programme is designed only for a particular type of livestock farmers or people from a tribe. The sole objective of NLTP is to improve livestock farming by providing land for ranching.
Nevertheless, Nigerians should demand more from this programme. So far, considering that ranching is usually for grazing animals such as cattle, it has not been specified if all the ranches that will be provided through this initiative will be reserved for cattle farmers alone. Kindly note that Nigerians from different tribes engage in cattle rearing and, hence, providing land for cattle rearing does not imply they are only for people from a particular tribe. Hence, if you have an interest in cattle rearing, you can key into the NLTP and benefit from its objectives. However, farmers of other livestock should not be left out. Cattle are not the only sources of meat or income in Nigeria and so should not be treated specially.
Furthermore, there is a need for proper dissemination of information concerning this programme. Many Nigerians might not know what it entails and will, therefore, kick against it. It is also important that people know when the programme starts so that those interested can join in. This is a call to the appropriate authorities to do the needful because the publicity level of this scheme is poor.