The N4.2billion special intervention by the Presidency on Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) aimed at settling the perennial crisis between crop farmers and herders in Nigeria has reached an advanced stage in Borno state.
The massive 12 square km project which is supposed to house three big earth dams, a veterinary clinic and many contemporary facilities like schools and places of worship to make life easy for residents has been going on with top-class speed says the commissioner for Animal Resources and Fisheries development Comrade Juliana Bitrus.
“The centre will also have a hospital to take care of residents, a milk collection centre and fodder bunkers to teach the residents new techniques in the business of fattening their cattle, pasture farm, gallery and many more. Whoever wants to buy or sell milk will go into Ruga to do so anytime. It would be a complete settlement with nothing lacking for the residents.” Said Comrade Bitrus.
When completed, about a hundred displaced people who lost their cattle business to the insurgency have been earmarked to benefit in the first phase from the ongoing RUGA project built at Ngaramman in the Mafa council area of northern Borno state, the Commissioner said over the weekend.
The project which cuts across 12.2 square kilometres in the landmass area is one of the biggest in the northern part of Nigeria where a lot of residents are involved in the cattle rearing business.
Speaking with newsmen in her office in Maiduguri, the Commissioner of Animal and Fisheries Comrade Bitrus noted that the RUGA project has been gazetted with a view to replicate it in the central and southern parts of the state respectively especially at Askira Uba and Kawu.
“We have already gazetted Askira Uba and Kawu in Kaga council area in the central part of the state for similar projects, and in the fullness of time if this insecurity challenge subsides, we shall commence the other two settlements so that we would have created proper space for cattle farmers to survive without clashing with anyone.,” she revealed.
About three million cows have been lost so far in cattle rustling and this RUGA Project in conjunction with the federal government is meant to compensate the people who have cattle herding as their livelihood so that the beef and milk production business will continue, said the commissioner.
Cattle herding business is handled mostly by the Kanuri, Badewi, Kwayam, Fulani, Bura, Margi and a lot of them would also be involved in another cattle farming programme known as L-Press in which 450 hectares of land has been acquired for that in the Muna garage corridor of the state.
REHABILITATION OF ABATTOIR
Borno has a lot of old fashioned slaughterhouses like “kasua shanu” where butchers and non-butchers alike are involved in a lot of illegal slaughtering of cattle without inspection by the veterinary doctors who are supposed to inspect and certify the meat as good for consumption.
It is with this in mind that Comrade Juliana Bitrus has read the riot act that no cattle should be brought in dead into the abattoir again adding that all animals must be examined before the ultimate slaughter by the butchers who should maintain high hygienic standards.
Comrade Bitrus said that the deteriorating standards were what brought the L-press a new partner which is part of the standardization of slaughterhouses in the entire state during this period of insurgency. “they have looked at the slaughterhouse and they are coming to work on it. These days we sure have to rely on partners like them on the ground so that our people will consume meat slaughtered in a hygienic environment.
“The abattoir at “Kasua shanu” cow market is owned by the council area but the state has to make sure hygiene is maintained which is why there is a Cattle market committee to keep certain rules in place. The committee on the RUGA project was put in place to ensure that the issue of cattle management is sanitized, so that rustling is reduced to the barest minimum.
On security, the commissioner noted that the state still has some security issues with rustling but with the committee in place, they will continue to look into it for the betterment of all.
On livestock, she said that the ministry is involved in massive production and has been selling its eggs at 1, 200 which is quite lower than what is obtained in the market in Maiduguri.
“We now have a complex opposite 505 by Muna garage area which is about seventy per cent completed. When completed we do hope to attach additional solar panels for 24-hour power that will go with the 65kva generator which is in place right now for the entire complex. We also have water which would be reticulated around the entire farm.
“And we have a hatchery there that can produce as much as 120,000 birds within the period of a 21 days cycle. We did not have to go to India or China for fabrication but we had local engineers be involved in the fabrication of the incubators which is already functional.
“We have up to twenty ad hoc staff we are going to train to oversee the hatchery unit so that we would have healthy birds to rear and sell to the public too. As for the breeds of birds, we would be producing, I think we would rely on the demands of the consumers. whatever they demand, we will surely give to them whether it is broiler, layers cockerels or even Noiler breeds. As long as the manpower is on the ground to handle them.” Said the commissioner.
CHALLENGES OF FISH FARMING
Comrade Juliana Bitrus said that they have been able to overhaul the gultimari earth dam, and have done new things in the fish farm.
we do not buy fingerlings from outside again, and now we are going on to the stage of the production of our own feeds for the fishes so that we ease the expenses on the commodity now.
A kilo is about 1000 now. Just sold them last week and we are yet to get bigger ones to sell now.