By Abubakar Ahmed
The Federal Government has launched a railway scheme to ease movement of livestock from ranches to the market through an initiative known as the “Farm to Market Livestock Rail Scheme”.
The scheme was launched in Gusau on Thursday by Alhaji Aliyu Abdulhamid, the Managing Director of Nigerian Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NAISAL).
Gov. Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara, represented by his deputy, Alhaji Ibrahim Wakkala and the representative of the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, graced the event.
In his remark, Abdulhamid said the scheme would improve revenue of livestock farmers through reduction in the cost of transportation.
The managing director said a total of 500 cows would be transported in 15 train wagons through the scheme,
He explained that the wagons would be fitted with animal feeds and medical supplies in order to ensure the healthiness of the animals on arrival at their destination with minimum risks to the owners.
He added that an annual trade value of N850 billion to N950 billion was expected to be transacted from the north to the southern parts of the country through railway scheme.
Gov. Yari expressed happiness in the choice of the state for the launch, saying it would give wider access to markets for farmers in the state.
The governor called for the extension of railway services to more towns and cities in the country.
Yari said the scheme would reduce the pressure caused by heavy trucks on Nigerian roads, address insecurity faced by marketers and provide employment to many youths.
He said the state government would continue to collaborate with companies and organizations in the promotion of agriculture in order to improve employment and guarantee food security.
On his part, the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe, who was represented by the ministry’s Director of Agricultural Transformation Agenda, Mr Olasupo Abioye, said the scheme was aimed at maximizing value through rail transportation.
The minister, who said that the nation’s annual budget alone could not handle the issues of food security, employment generation and improved welfare, urged Nigerians to come out and participate fully in the scheme.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that representatives of the Nigerian Cattle Breeders Association, as well as the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association had expressed their support to the scheme and commended government for the initiative.