The Nigerian Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, disclosed some important points last week concerning the Nigerian Army’s investment in agriculture through its Barracks Investment Initiative Programme (BIIP).
He was speaking at the Nigerian Army Farms and Ranches, Giri, Abuja, when he played host to the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, who presented farm implements and items to the Army.
Did you know that?
- The Nigerian Army has about 1000 herds of cattle in its ranches across different formations in Nigeria.
- Presently, the Army is investing in livestock, fisheries, poultry and other aspects of agriculture.
- The Army recently acquired 436,000 hectares of land in Nasarawa State as pilot for its integrated farming project.
So why is the Army investing in agriculture?
According to Buratai, every barrack in Nigeria specialises in one or more types of livestock breeding and farming, such as ranching, fisheries, poultry production for eggs and meat, green houses as well as plantations. He said:
- The efforts of the federal government to achieve national security will be impossible if there is no food security. “It is my desire to extend the frontiers of the Nigerian Army from physical security to include addressing the food security of the nation in line with Mr. President’s policy on agriculture. I believe agriculture would greatly reduce the high rate of unemployment among our teeming youths. It would also enhance the welfare and well-being of families of officers and soldiers all over the country,” Buratai said.
- He said he got motivated to establish ranches as Army chief due to what he saw years ago while on a course at the Bangladesh National Defence College.
“I was in the National Defence College in Bangladesh, in their capital, Dhaka. I went there with my daughter who was about eight years old then. While in the accommodation, every week, the Bangladesh Army Ranch officials would come to knock at our doors to deliver 2-3 litres of milk to my daughter from the army ranch. I was actually taken aback, and I said, if the Bangladesh Army can do this, why can’t we do it?
“So, I was motivated not knowing that I would one day be appointed Chief of Army Staff. Behold, it was one of the first projects that I directed for its implementation. Actually, it started with the ranches before we went into other areas like poultry, fisheries, vegetable growing and the rest,” he said.
Recall that in December 2016, the Chief of Army Staff disclosed his desire to set up ranches. Earlier that year, he sent officers of the Army to Argentina to look at how cattle were reared.
“Argentina has a population of 41 million people, but it feeds about 400 million people around the world with its beef. To take it to the next level, we want to adopt a system where the cattle are not just free ranging coming from Sokoto to Port Harcourt, thereby making their meat tough to eat, the products will soon be coming from our own farms and ranches,” Buratai said at the time.
It is truly impressive how far the Army has come since then.
Why this matters:
Nigeria is currently grappling with frequent clashes by herdsmen and farmers. These clashes result in heavy casualties on both sides. The global best practice is the establishment of ranches but the Nigerian government is slow to see its implementation, proposing cattle colonies instead, an idea which is being resisted by most governors outside the core North.
The Army ranches show the way on how best to raise livestock.
Buratai disclosed that the ranches have provided job opportunities to the youths in the barracks, wives of army personnel as well as troops serving and retired.
Also, as the agric minister Ogbeh said, “when cows roam in the bush, they come in contact with different diseases. One of the reasons we don’t have enough meat and milk is because our cattle roam. This is something for us to be proud of as a country.”
The minister said, “To farmers, politicians, journalists, this is an example to follow.”