Post Insurgency: Borno to invest in RUGA, agricultural projects

The Borno State Government is establishing Rural-Urban Grazing Areas (RUGAs) for herders displaced by Boko Haram insurgency in the state.

The Projects Coordinator to Governor Babagana Zulum, Mallam Tijjani Mohammed; disclosed at the weekend, while briefing the Sudanese Economic Team leader to Borno, Dr Osman El-Fal at the Mafa RUGA centre on Dikwa road.

Recalled that, Sudan Delegation with agricultural experts since last Friday were in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital to partner on areas of agricultural products such as Gum Arabic, Wheat, Date Palm farming and animal production, as peace gradually returns with massive relocation and resettlement of millions of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) back to their liberated communities.

This is even as the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) in Khartoum, Sudan has donated $500,000 grant to the State Government for livestock artificial insemination across the 27 local government areas of the state.

The visit to Borno by the Sudan delegation was sequel to Governor Zulum’s visit to Sudan in early September this year, where he led some state delegation to the headquarters of Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) in Khartoum, following which, the partnership was potentially reached for the bank and Borno to partner on exporting wheat and gum arabic produced by farmers in Borno.

Briefing both delegations from Sudan, led by Dr El-Fal, and that of Borno State Government led by the former Minister of State for Agriculture, Bukar Tijjani, the Projects Coordinator, Mallam Mohammed said, the RUGA centres are to be sited in three senatorial districts at Mafa, Gubio and Rumirgo in Askira/Uba Local Government Area.

The establishment of the grazing areas, he noted, is supported by the Federal Government intervention of N4 billion in the state’s 25-year development plan.

“This project is built on 250 hectres of land, comprising various infrastructural facilities, including 1.5-km perimeter fencing,” he said.

According to him, the Mafa RUGA centre included 100 housing units to resettle the displaced herders in the Central Senatorial District.

Other facilities at the centre, are a community primary school and veterinary clinic for the livestock.

Besides, he added that modern ways of farming will be integrated with the building of hay silage-making bunkers for the production of pasture and fodders.

In ensuring all year-round pastures, he said that an irrigated pasture, including feed bins, are to be established for the livestock.

To upgrade RUGA’s standards, he disclosed that other facilities for fattening shades for bulls and rams are also to be constructed.

“Three earth dams are to be sited for the watering of livestock and production of vegetables,” he said; stating that youths and women are to be empowered in the production of fish, poultry and tailoring.

He added that apart from these, the state government is to introduce improved breeds of cattle with insemination to produce 30 litres of milk a day from each cow.

“This is compared to the local breeds of cattle that produce a maximum of only two litres of milk per cow,” he said.

Continuing, he said: “About 100 animals be given to the herders for cross breeding with the local cattle,” noting that because of the harsh weather conditions in the state, 75 Sokoto Guladi breed of cattle had been selected to withstand the hot weather.

Speaking on the value chain of RUGA, the adviser, said with the setup of security outpost and milk collection centres, people from Maiduguri collect and sell milk to the public.

While under the second phase of the project, local herders in the district will be trained on the production hygienic milk before selling.

He added that households of herders will also be trained on the production of pasture for their livestock; as seeds of irrigated pasture have been acquired for distribution.

According to him, male herders will be producing pasture, while the females are trained on how to handle milking machines.

Responding, Dr. El-Fal; said that even though he is not a livestock specialist, he really admired the way the RUGA project is structured.

“This includes the integrated aspect of the project, including the process of the value chain,” stating that it’s a brilliant idea, as the project has targeted the livelihoods of people in the area.

He noted that this is despite the security issues that hampered their living conditions in the state.

He reiterated that the way the project is designed perfectly fits into the strategy on livestock production in Sudan.

“Your RUGA projects have addressed the integrated aspects of their designs and sustenance,” he said.

In a related development, both delegations were at Borno State College of Agriculture, where they paid a visit to Maiduguri Farm Centre, Agricultural Mechanization Centre, Nursery and Poultry  Production Units to see areas of intervention for the massive and modern system of agricultural practices for sustainable economic development.

They were received by various Officers in charge of each unit and briefed about the modus operandi and the challenges faced, especially during the peak of the Boko Haram crisis.

The two teams also visited Kwari village and other Gum Arabic Plantation sites in Magumeri local government area with a view to enhancing the production of Gum Arabic for export business within short and long term plans.

After the field visits, there is going to be a stakeholders meeting slated for Monday (14th November 2021), where issues relating to agricultural production and challenges would be discussed to chat a way forward.

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