The Nigerian government has launched the Agro Rangers, a paramilitary outfit to protect cattle colonies, grazing reserves, as well as crop and livestock farmers from attacks.
The deployment of the unit followed the recent countrywide escalation of armed clashes over land and grazing rights between crop farmers and livestock herders.
The first group of 2 500 operatives, drawn from the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSDC), started operations in Niger State on Saturday.
“This federal government programme seeks to protect and secure the ranches, animals and grazing reserves. We need to support the economic diversification project from oil to agriculture. The NSCDC is saddled with that responsibility in all the states of the Nigerian Federation, but it will not protect criminals,” says NSDC Assistant Commandant General Adamu Soja.
The project is being implemented in partnership with the Nigeria Cattle Breeders Association at no cost to the cattle herders and ranchers. Clashes between the cattle herders and the farmers have claimed thousands of lives over the past few years.
Over 100 have been killed since the start of 2018, mainly from farming communities in Benue State.