Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi on Friday presented documents of 15, 000 hectares of land for cattle colony to the Federal Government.
Presenting the acceptance document to Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in Abuja, Bello said the state would pilot the cattle colony programme.
The governor said that 15,000 hectares of land have been mapped out in two local government areas of the state for cattle colony.
Bello said 10,000 hectares of land had been earmarked for cattle colony in Ajaokuta Local Government Area and 5,000 hectares in Adavi Local Government Area of the state.
According to him, the quest to key into the programme was to accommodate the youth, herdsmen and farmers without conflicts and add value to the economic wellbeing of the people.
The governor said the state and its people were ready to ensure the success of the initiative.
“Our visit is in continuation of our efforts as a state to key into the programme of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture in terms of cattle colony.
“This is otherwise known as the conglomeration of cattle ranches programme of the Federal Government.
“We are here to state our interest and readiness to participate in this programme.
“I am here to inform the minister that the people of Kogi state have keyed into this programme 100 per cent.
“We are ready to pilot the programme, our people have been sensitised about what the programme is all about.
“I am here to convey this message in a written letter to the ministry and we will be waiting for your actions.”
The governor explained that the state government would gradually pay compensation to citizens that donated their land for the programme.
Bello said the state had budgeted sufficient fund to ensure the smooth take-off of the programme in the areas of security and equipment.
Responding, Ogbeh commended the state government for keying into the cattle colony initiative of the Federal Government.
Ogbeh said that the country currently had an estimated 19.5 million cows.
“This is about courage. We have an estimated population of 19.5 million cattle now. If we have every individual keeping a ranch, it is an average population of 300 cows per herd.
“We need 1,711 ranches in every state, and 633,333 ranches in the country.
“That is when the conflicts will come because we cannot manage it but if they are closer together, management becomes easier.
“The land belongs to states under the Land Use Act and we don’t have any intention to colonise them.
“I do hope that when the programme works, other states will key in,” the minister said.
On debates that cattle business is private and should not gain government’s support, Ogbeh said the government had also supported crops production in the country.
According to him, cattle contribute six per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).