Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi has pledged to make the state be the Holland of Nigeria in terms of dairy milk production and other livestock products for other states to patronise.
Bello made the promise at the Kogi State Agriculture Summit, tagged: “Moving Agriculture To The Next Level”, on Friday in Lokoja, as part of activities to mark his two years in office.
“In Holland, everyone knows that Holland produce more than a quarter of dairy milk and meats for Europe and America.
“Kogi will be the Holland of Nigeria where every other state in Nigeria will come and buy milk and other dairy products.
“They will also buy meat, hides and skin, bones, horns and even cow faeces for manure, which will translate into cash for our people.
“We are looking for opportunities to make money for our people.
“If you have a parcel of land that you are not using, what will happen is that the pastoralists will come and you rent it to them for money.
“Our youths and women will learn how to breed and keep these cows as well.
“And what will happen is that we shall have hire cross breed cows that will produce more milk and high quality meats where other states can come and buy,” Bello said.
The governor added that the state government was looking for opportunities and how to utilise them.
“They said I am friend to Fulani herdsmen and hate farmers, but they are all falsehood on the pages of newspapers and television.
“We are telling the people that we are tolerant in Kogi, we love our neighbours and seizing and maximising the best of every opportunity.
“Very soon we will tell our Fulani brothers not to take their cows across border to sell again.
“We will ask them to drop their cows in Kogi, and we will rent your land to them to stay.
“A land where people can come and buy, pay tax to government and they will settle the land owners.
“That your land that is there and not generating anything will become a hot cake.
“These are the various benefits we will derive from our coexistence with Fulani herdsmen.
“This is the way we are going to go; in the next six months we shall begin to see the economy of Kogi transforming very rapidly.
“The Federal Government and international agencies are bringing money, grants to Kogi to support livestock production, including keeping these cows in form of ranches in one particular area with facilities called ‘cattle colonies’”.
The governor restated his determination to support President Muhammadu Buhari in implementing his manifestos as far as revolutionary in agriculture was concerned.
“We are empowering our youths to ensure that they have improved well being.
“The era of free money is gone. It is time for us to bend down and work to make ourselves rich by returning back to agriculture.
“We must return back to farm. Let us key into various programmes of this government, especially in agriculture.
“All that is required is your interest and the land.
“The government is supporting the people and adding value through cottage industries, so that farm produce can be sold with adequate gain.
“You own your land, we shall give you fund, farm implements and create the market for you, what else are you waiting for?
“Why can’t we tolerate our Fulani bothers and sisters who have lived with us for a very long time? And you want them to leave now to go where?
“We have to be tolerant, we have to tolerate one another, it is out of tolerance that we gathered here today.
“We develop the culture of tolerance by accommodating one another.
“Hold on to your land, we will teach you how to use it judiciously to make huge money in the state; our land is our oil wells that can never dry,” Bello said.
Earlier, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Kehinde Oloruntoba, commended the governor for making the necessary funds available, which had brought about the huge success recorded in the sector under two years.
According to him, the state government invested over N2.5 billion in agriculture last year.
“We now have functional equipment at a cheaper rate for farmers, and 50,000 tonnes capacity rice mills to be installed,” said the commissioner.
He said that the Federal Government had selected 135 farmers in the state to access N4.3 million loan each for poultry production.
He added the state had 500 hectares of rice farm and clearing another 500 hectares with a total target of 2,500 hectares.
Representatives from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and other stakeholders also spoke at the summit.