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Arewa Forum Proposes Safe Enclave For Herders

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Arewa Economic Forum (AEF) has called for the establishment of what it called ‘Safe Enclaves' for cattle rearing in the Northern part of the country to address the menace of insecurity bedevilling the region.

The forum warned against opening of borders for the importation of goods from other countries as it would put unnecessary pressure on the nation's foreign exchange.

The forum's chairman, Mallam Ibrahim Shehu Dandakata, made the call while addressing newsmen yesterday in Abuja.

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Dandakata said the prevailing security challenges started with cattle rustling for more than 15 years before it graduated and matured to banditry.

He said that banditry had negatively affected cattle rearing and agricultural production in general, adding that crop farming and animal rearing had been devastated.

“So our appeal is to the federal government and all well-meaning Nigerians to put all hands on deck to check this issue of insecurity if we must overcome food scarcity.

“Just yesterday, the association of rice farmers said that Nigeria can only produce 57 per cent of what it requires of rice if all land is being cultivated.

“So you can see the kind of danger that Nigeria is in, and any country that does not have food security is at risk of breakup.

“On our part, Arewa Economic Forum is providing other solutions that are not complete solutions, but solutions that will make things work.

“For example, we are proposing what we call safe enclaves for cattle rearing.

“It is a known fact that the first victims of banditry are the Fulanis because this banditry started from cattle rustling, up till today,” he said.

Dandakata said that such safe enclaves would help the Fulani herders to congregate in one place in gazetted grazing reserves where the government could give them all the necessary support.

He said they could leverage the private sector and NGOs to provide what they need in those gazetted reserves, while the security agencies would provide the required security.

According to him, those locations are places nobody can encroach upon since they were gazetted.

On the issue of food security, Dandakata said that the challenge of banditry had left thousands of hectares of land lying fallow in those commercial farms that had hitherto supported food production across Nigeria.

According to him, more than 100,000 hectares of land are lying fallow across northern Nigeria with big silos that are not put under cultivation.

He urged the federal government to empower the Bank of Agriculture to seek a multilateral facility to make those farms cultivable and put them back into production, thereby ensuring food security.

According to him, Nigeria is a vast country with a huge population, and the issue of hunger in the country is accurate and small triggers can make it violent.

 


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