Farmers/Herders Conflict: Ranching may takeoff in Plateau before Dec - Prof. Wade

By Therese Nanlong

JOS— In view of the renewed widespread destruction of farmlands by cattle in communities in Plateau State, the State government has called for patient saying efforts are being intensified for the takeoff of the ranching option of the National Livestock Transformation Plan, NLTP which is believed would curb the incessant cases of conflicts between herders and farmers.

It would be recalled that between the first week of June, 2020 and the time of this report, hundreds of hectares of cultivated farmlands belonging to individuals and communities have been destroyed as the result of indiscriminate open grazing and lives as well as millions of Naira lost in the incidents.

Among the very recent is the destruction of farmlands belonging to 68 farmers in the Gyel district of Jos South local government area, the destruction of a 70 hectares palliative farmland cultivated to help Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Rotsu village of Miango District in Bassa Local Government Area and the killing of a middle-aged man in Rasat village of Barkin Ladi local government area when he asked a herdsman not to allow his cattle graze on his crops.

The State Focal Person for the NLTP, Professor John Wade who spoke with Vanguard on what is being done to end the cycle of violence between the herding and farming communities said government’s commitment in resolving the issue has not waned as the proposed ranching may takeoff in the two designated areas of Wase and Kanam local government areas of the State before the end of the year and called on citizens to be patient.

He said, “The preparation for the ranching is still ongoing, even last we week, we were at the reserves in preparatory to takeoff. This week too, we will be having a meeting with some of our partners, COVID-19 slowed down the movement and certain activities but the programme is still in place. What is happening in those areas have been long-standing issues which government has been working hard to resolve.

“I am aware that even last week, the Peace Building Agency was in some of these communities in Bassa, Riyom and some other affected communities within the Northern zone, had a roundtable conference with a view to resolving issues, we hope that they will actually resolve things among themselves.

READ ALSO: ‘Ranching is politics, we won’t accept it’

“In respect to the takeoff of the ranching, government is doing that at the gazetted grazing areas in Wase and Kanam were up till the time I am talking to you, there has not been any conflict of resources utilization or land use or other things. Government is making all efforts for the ranching to takeoff so that it can serve as a pilot programme for others to understand though nothing has started in the northern zone yet.

“Let people be patient, why some people don’t belief is because the thing has not taken off fully but with the pilot programme, the people are well sensitized and they are waiting for the takeoff, anytime from now, we will take off, we hope that things will pick up, maybe before the end of the year, something meaningful will happen.”

However, the Director General of the State Peace Building Agency, Joseph Lengmang has also expressed displeasure at the resurfaced menace saying those perpetrating the act do not mean well for the peace and stability of the State.

He called on security agencies to fish out the perpetrators and punish them saying, “In line with our mandate of promoting the culture of peace and harmonious coexistence in the State, PPBA strongly condemns the unprovoked and unwarranted destruction of this well intended community effort that would have significantly complemented our quest for self-sufficiency in food production.

“There is no gainsaying that this disturbing turn of event coming at a time that efforts to find amicable resolutions to the contentious issues of conflict through sustained negotiation, systematic dialogue and mediation have been heightened, no doubt poses a significant threat to the efforts and investments put together by both government and other critical stakeholders in the peace process in the State.

“We urge all lovers of peace to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who have been affected by this unfortunate development. In the face of this seeming act of wickedness, we must remain resolute and committed to the path of peace, knowing that at the end, good must certainly prevail over evil. We call on the security operatives vested with the responsibility of checking crime and criminality in the State not to rest on their oars in fishing out the perpetrators of this heinous act with the view to ensuring that they face the full weight of the law; as doing so would serve as deterrent to those who may be contemplating turning back the hands of time in our quest for the return of sustainable peace.”

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