By Stanley Nwanosike
The Security and Peace Committee in Enugu State says that the National Animal Identification and Traceability System (NAITS) being deployed in the country will sanitise and create security for pastoralists and their business.
The Secretary of the committee, Chief Emma Mbamalu, stated this on Saturday, in Enugu, at the South-East stakeholder sensitisation on the introduction of the NAITS across the country.
The sensitisation with theme: “Advocacy for Pastoralists, to curb livestock rustling and related criminalities and general sensitisation on the rollout of NAITS in the South-East Region”.
Mbamalu said that the system would not only assist in identifying and tracing livestock via electronic tags, but would also help to identify the pastoralists who owned the livestock, for further sensitisation and meetings whenever the need arises.
“The development will enable us to reach the pastoralists on time and sensitise them on security issues and situations, to ensure peace and to check the use of underaged children as livestock labourers that create the confusion we have today.
“The use of underaged labourers is the major cause of the destruction of farmlands and other negative tendencies that we have been battling with for years now.
“When implemented, NAITS will enable us to identify who owns a livestock and where they live, for ease of communication and quick resolution of any issue, as well as check the infiltration of bad elements disguising as pastoralists.
“The pastoralists for years have been living peacefully with us, but suddenly the whole thing changed. And this is the essence of the state government setting up this committee, to bring peace,’’ he said.
The state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Matthew Idu, described “the NAITS scheme is a good step in the right direction”, as the scheme would help in the identification and traceability of livestock, to reduce pastoralists/farmers clashes.
Represented by Mr Nelson Onugwu, Director, Animal Husbandry Services, Enugu state Ministry of Agriculture, the commissioner said that the state was already proposing the profiling of pastoralists at local council and community levels in the state.
“We will involve our traditional rulers to ensure that the identification of pastoralists at the council and community levels is a reality; so that no pastoralist moves in with livestock without the traditional ruler knowing him,” he said.
Dr Kabir Abdulkerim, Executive Director of Megacorp Nigeria Ltd, the technology company facilitating the scheme, said that each livestock would be tagged in the ear with a unique device that would allow for identification and traceability via internet-enabled devices.
Abdulkerim noted that apart from the check by the central server in Abuja; those under the scheme can use their internet-enabled devices to identify and trace the movement and whereabouts of their livestock.
“The scheme has a lot of security, socio-economic and data benefits for all stakeholders within the livestock sector and will help to also get the full registration and data of pastoralists, who are owners of the livestock.
“On security, when any livestock is discovered with their ear cut or injured without a tag on it; it will help security agencies know that the livestock is either stolen or rustled.
“Thus, it would enable the country check internal and external theft of livestock, since there will be a unique national, state, local government pastoralist’s number identifiable and traceable via an internet-enabled device following each livestock.
“It will also increase data collection and aggregation; enhance economic benefits for the pastoralists and create an environment for pastoralists to get access to knowledge, sensitisation and even financial credit,” he said.
The Chairman, Enugu state Council of Traditional Rulers, Igwe Lawrence Agubuzu, said that a bright future for the livestock business in Nigeria lies in modern ranching, as exemplified by former President Olusegun Obasanjo on his Otta farm.
“Where several investors or breeders have their cattle in one ranch, NAITS can help them to identify who owns which cattle.
“And cattle rearing and ranching should be treated as strictly private business that can contribute to the growth of the national economy,” Agubuzu said.
The chairman lamented that notwithstanding the 13.9 million cattle in the country, the country still spends $1.5 billion annually on the importation of milk; since milk production from local breeds was very low and could not meet local demand.
“Ranching will make Nigeria not only self-sufficient in dairy products, but a net exporter of cow milk and other dairy products to other parts of the world,” he said.
Earlier, Alhaji Gidado Siddiki, Chairman, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), South-East, said that the association was seeing the NAITS scheme as a problem-solving mechanism that would improve the safety of pastoralists and their livestock in the forests.
According to Siddiki, NAITS touches MACBAN members, who have long been at the receiving end of every misfortune that the society suffers in the hands of all kinds of criminals in the wild, who also do not spare our members.
“Given the fact that our herders are itinerant and uneducated, I wish to implore the designers of this scheme to avail the executors a simple plan that will be easily understood by them.
“The simpler and less complicated the operation, the easier it would be for herders to understand and embrace. We want to duly appreciate the recognition of the ministry of agriculture has accorded MACBAN as a viable partner in the project.
“We appeal for due consideration in terms of logistics, to enable us perform optimally in instructing the herders on the relevance of complying with the scheme,” he said.
The sensitization was organised by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Megacorp Nigeria Ltd., NAN learnt. (NAN)