FG Creates Agro Rangers Corps, Set To Deploy 3,000 To Farms, Ranches

The federal government has begun the training of 3,000 personnel under its Agro Rangers programme designed to protect farmers and their investments from attacks by criminals, especially kidnappers.
The Agro Rangers unit, an initiative of the minister of agriculture and rural development, Audu Ogbe and his interior counterpart, Abdurahman Dambazau, is a unit under the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
The strategy, it is expected, will forestall attacks on farms and boost farmers’ confidence to work on their farms without fear of attack, thereby guaranteeing the federal government’s avowed food security plans.
Nigeria has witnessed an escalation of deadly clashes between farmers and herdsmen in parts of Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Niger, Nasarawa and Kaduna, among others, in the last three years. The attacks resulted in loss of lives and farm investments worth billions of naira, thus threatening the country’s drive towards food security. This is in addition to rising cases of cattle rustling and kidnapping.
The establishment of the Agro Rangers unit followed the recommendations of a committee headed by the director, Joint Services, in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Noah Auta, which was inaugurated mid-2016, to deliberate on the operational modalities of the special unit and submit recommendations.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the first batch of 3,000 Agro Rangers, drawn from the NSCDC arms squad, are currently being trained by the Nigerian Army in weapon handling, and are set to complete the training in the next few weeks, after which they will be deployed to guard and protect farms and ranches.
LEADERSHIP had exclusively reported a few months back that there were plans by the federal government to deploy personnel of the NSCDC to guard farms as part of efforts to address the issue of kidnapping on the farms.
Ogbeh and Dambazau were reported to be collaborating on the new arrangement, under which a special unit would be created in the NSCDC for that purpose and that personnel for the new unit would be drawn from the corps’ arms squad and would be deployed to the farms to protect them.
“The personnel for this special assignment will also receive training to provide security for host communities of the proposed federal government cattle ranches, and protect the agricultural investments of the scheme. The personnel, it was also gathered, would be equipped to be able to reach out to the commands of the NSCDC nearest to the farms they are deployed to, for reinforcement, in the event of any invasion by assailants or criminals”, LEADERSHIP had earlier reported.
In his address at the inauguration of the committee at the time, the minister of agriculture had stated that government was in the process of creating cattle ranches and bringing the nation’s cattle together in manageable conditions, a move that would give the government the necessary platform to finally solve the conflicts between herdsmen and crop farmers as soon as possible.
Ogbeh said, “We are hoping that, in the process, the Civil Defence Corps will create a special unit of officers, adequately trained and equipped to protect the communities and agricultural investments against rustlers and prevent cows from leaving the ranches. Beyond oil, we need agriculture as an investment. Grasses, water and vet services will be provided in the ranches and no herdsman will have any excuse to roam. If they do that, then they are breaking the law.
“We will harvest high quality milk and beef for local consumption and hides and skin for export. I urge the committee to discuss this issue seriously and work out the modalities. We need to tell the world that if we invest or invite foreign investors to Nigeria, their investment is secure. The president is committed to the success of this project and the need to end this violence”.
Explaining the decision of his ministry to accede to the request for creation of a unit of NSCDC personnel to be deployed to agriculture investments, Dambazau said his timely response was because the issue bordered on his ministry’s responsibility to secure the lives and property of Nigerians and to protect the country’s agricultural investments.
“This duty is directly connected to the ease of doing business and we want to encourage investors to come to Nigeria. We are solidly behind the ranching programme and we’ll provide adequate support to the Ministry of Agriculture to succeed”, the minister added.