By Muhammad M. Garba

The full tale of the economy of Nasarawa State will be incomplete without the mention of the Keffi Cattle market that accounts for a significant share of the state’s agribusiness income. Located in the outskirts of Keffi local government area of Nasarawa State since 3rd September 2013, ‘Kara’ otherwise known as the Keffi Cattle market has become a melting point of agribusiness not only for cattle breeders but for poultry farmers and sellers of staple food produce among others; as it is situated on the boundary of Keffi and Karu, the last two local government areas before the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

Alhaji Usman Damau, a top official of the market, while tracing the history of the market said after initiating the idea, Fulani leaders in the area contacted the late Emir of Keffi, Alhaji Usman Chindo Yamusa and fortunately he didn’t just welcome it, but allocated a land to them. Now the market has become a commercial hub and everyone is reaping its dividends, according to Damau, who doubles as the ‘Ardon Ardodin Keffi’, a traditional title and Financial Secretary of the market’s Union.

Tuesdays and Saturdays are market days in this center that provides employment to over 1,000 people. On every market day, officials from the local government come to collect tax from trucks coming into the market and from sellers of cows, camels, fowls and donkeys.

“We generate revenue for the State government. On every market day, officials from the local government come with receipts to collect all the revenue they supposed to. After collecting it, the market Union receives a meagre percentage. The Union also utilizes that percentage to pay the security guards and cleaners and for the continued maintenance of the market.

“Ranchers and stock growers come from neighboring states like Bauchi, Plateau, Kaduna, Katsina and Kano to buy and sell livestock here. Also, people come from as far as southern states like Ondo and Lagos and carry out their businesses without any fear,” he said.

But, he alongside other traders who spoke to GREEN MONITOR said that cannot be unconnected with the strategic location of the market. Nasarawa State’s proximity with Abuja, Nigeria’s capital has made the market a one that is positioned in the centre of the country.

“This market has affordable cows, goats, rams and sheep, donkeys and fowls, another trader added.

He continued saying that for example the price of cow range from 40,000 to 400,000. Depending on the size and how lucky a buyer is.

Government should not forget about us in the fund it is giving to young people, because with the arrival of this market, idleness and corporate begging among young people have reduced in Keffi. The market is providing different jobs that include buying, selling, haulage, washing of cars and motorcycles.

Recently, the government has constructed a new bridge for them, a development that will pave way for them to move away from the main road but the traders still want more from the authorities. According to them, sometimes even at night the market is a beehive of activities and there is no electricity. Hence, their demand for the electrification of the market and the provision of adequate security as well as toilets, fencing and modern stalls.

Baba Garba, a middleman in the market said on every market day, he facilitates the selling of at least 10 cattle, while young intermediaries sell minimum of two on a market day.

“In the last seven years, from my children’s school fees to my personal and family’s upkeep are all from what I get from this market,” he told GREEN MONITOR.

It is revealed that about 300 cattle are sold on every market day, with each cattleman coming with 20 to 30 cows.

“Aside this bridge, we want the government to support us with funds,” says another trader, Alhaji Fate who commended the local government for constructing a bridge in the market.

For Hajiya Maryam Dora who comes to the market to sell cattle milk from Kokona local government area of the state, the market has become a shield to her as she told GREEN MONITOR on every market day, she makes a profit of about N5,000. But, she pleaded with the government to provide adequate security to protect all herders wherever they are.

Alhaji Isa Shu’aibu, a trader who deals in rams and goats in the market said on a good market day, one can sell 30 to 40 rams but sometimes a trader might sell as less as five.

There is a need for the Nasarawa State Government to put more attention to the livestock sub-sector for the improvement of cattle production and marketing in the state in order for agriculture to fulfill its promise of being the driving force of the state’s economy. Though the commitment of the government has been seen in strides it has made since its inception like the payment of N88 million to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) as counterpart funding, there is a need to ensure that support from governmental and non-governmental agencies get the targeted beneficiaries.

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