Grazing Reserves Eliminating Poverty, Making Herders Richer – el-Rufai

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*Inaugurates  Arla Milk Farm

By; FUNMI ADERINTO, Kaduna

Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai  on Thursday, said that Arla is one of the 14 grazing reserves in the state, to ensure that on each of this grazings  that settle between a thousand and 5,000 families to eliminate poverty among  herders, by making them richer.

Governor el-Rufai expressed this at Damau, Kubau Local Government Area at the official opening of Arla Milk Farm, the grouo’s first farm outside Europe. 

The governor said, “it is a very important day for me personally because when I remember the time we visited Arla in the UK, and then to Denmark to begin this discussions on this idea, we had  no inclination that Arla would accept our proposal to partner with us to do this kind of investment.”

He explained that the last time he was there some years ago, it was just Savannah grassland and some trees, but today, they have visited and gone round, perhaps the most advanced, dairy farm on the African continent.

He thanked Arla for having faith in Nigeria, and Kaduna State Government to make this investment.

“However, our team just returned from South Africa under the guidance of Arla to buy our own cows for this farm, because Arla is doing this as a demonstration.

“We hope 1,200 families will be doing something with cow purchase and supply to Kaduna State Government from South Africa on the advice of Arla,” he said.

The governor  said they  thought of the project to solve several problems, the first is to make their  herders richer.

“The average Fulani cows produce at most two litres of milk per day, these cows on this farm, will be producing anything between thirty and forty litres per day, this effectively mean  that the income of the herders will be multiplied 15 to 20 times.

“To eliminate poverty among our herders by making them richer.

“The second objective is to stay in one place, where there’s pasture, water, get clinic experts like Arla to guide them, collect their milk and give them value. Along the way, their children will be educated so that they will not grow up to become bandits, they will have healthcare, they will also have skills and do other things with their lives.

“The third objective is to raise security level, because when you residentirize a person, you  know where he lives, you know his name, you know his address, it is easier to govern that person,” he said.

The governor said that  he hopes that with the success of a farm like that, the problem with  herders and farmers will reduce in the state and the country at large.

He noted, “We have fourteen grazing in Kaduna State, this is just one of them, our long time plan and our objective from 10-20yrs is to ensure that on each of this grazing reserve their is something like this that settles between a thousand and 5,000 families.

“If we are able to settle 500,000 families that is about half a million Fulanis in various grazing reserves that were taken off going up and down with cows that produce 1-2 litres of milk,  this is our dream.

“But to make the dream come through, we need a partner, someone that knows the business. We needed someone that was ready to risk his or her money to run it as a business,  not as cultural activity just as the Fulani look at herding cattle, not as a government investment.”

He further said,  “government  investments usually fail. Government does not know how to run businesses,  that is why we went to Arla.

“We are very grateful on behalf of Kaduna State Government to Arla for doing this.

“This is one of my happiest day as the Governor of Kaduna State to come here and see this is quite heart warming.

“I want to use this opportunity to thank the CBN for providing loan of 10bn Naira so that the state will do its own part.

“This  investment is completely Arla’s 12bn Dollars, but we had to build schools, houses, primary healthcare and procure high yield cows for the families that will be settled here.

“Government is giving them this free now, but we hope that when they began to make profit, they will pay the government back over long period of time.

“But we had to borrow this money because no bank will give us the money, because they don’t believe that it is a viable business.

“And the only bank that could give us the money is the CBN under their commercial agricultural business.

“But going forward, if this becomes a success, then it will be easier for commercial banks to lend to anyone that wants to do this,” he said

el-Rufai assured that more businesses will come to Kubau, because the people are hospitable.

On his part, the Emir of Zazzau, Ahmad Nuhu Bamali expressed  delight with the governor for the  investment, saying that, “everybody is happy. I am the luckiest person,   this investment has come to my domain.”

He said, “what  you see today is called investment, you can be an employer, not to be employed when you’re still strong.

“I thank the management,  they have done well.  This is one of the legacy projects and this will impact lives of people now and beyond. It will not be limited to only Kaduna State, but to the whole country at large,” he said.

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