MINISTER of Agriculture and Rural
Development Audu Ogbeh recently
said that 11 states had provided 55,000
hectares of land for the establishment
of ranches to curb clash between
farmers and pastoralists in their
states. He listed the states to include
Plateau, Kaduna, Kano, Gombe,
Katsina, Taraba, Niger, Adamawa,
Jigawa, Sokoto and the FCT.
He also stressed the need to improve
livestock and dairy industry in the
country, observing that the country
had more than 19 million cattle, 41
million sheep and 72 million goats as
at 2011.
“The way forward is to strive to
attain self-sufficiency in animal
protein by checking constant
exposure of our cows to long
distance trekking in search of pasture
which affects their productivity. This
administration has therefore set out
to establish ranches to be planted
with high quality improved tropical
grass and legume species.
“We shall provide irrigation for all
year commercial fodder production
to enhance settlement of pastoralist
and ensure cattle, sheep and goat
improvement through an expanded
breeding programme that would use
artificial insemination,’’ he explained.
Analysts note that the federal
government must have reason for
keeping the pastoralists in established
nets, preventing them from one
point to another in search of green
pastures. They also observe that it
is safer to curtail the movement of
the cattle since such movement often
results in the destruction of crops
and clashes between the herdsmen
and the farmers.
In spite of this, Dr Mohammed
Ahmed, immediate pass Chief
Executive Officer of the National
Veterinary Research Institute, Vom,
said a successful bid for ranches
must involve mass investments from
governments and other stakeholders.
“Ranches are capital intennsive;
government must ensure that there is
enough water and all-year-round grass
for grazing. The Fulani herdsmen
must also be encouraged to cut grass
in the rainy season and store same for
use during the dry season in addition
to being educated on how to manage
limited space.
“I am not sure that the typical
Fulani man in Nigeria will happily
embrace a ranch, but with the current
realities, settling them in one place is
the best way out, especially if they can
have what they want where they are
settled,’’ he said.
In his view, Dr Sylvester Akut, a
specialist in livestock medicine, said
the regional body such as ECOWAS
must encourage other West African
nations to establish their grazing fields
or ranches. According to him, this
will control the movement of cows
and sheep from in and out of Nigeria,
especially since herdsmen from
neigbouring nations have often been
accused of causing conflicts with local
Nigerian farmers.
“It also means that the Nigeria
Immigration Service must come in to
check herdsmen’s illegal entries into
Nigeria because one nation cannot
carry the whole burden. It is true
that some of these countries are very
dry, but their governments must be
supported to establish ranches or
grazing reserves using the River Niger
that passed through their nations.
“From experience, the herdsmen/
farmers clash is a bit complicated
and requires all hands on deck. I will suggest that government must ban
night grazing immediately the ranches
are established because that is common
among foreign herdsmen. Such night
grazing is usually dangerous because
the cows and the herdsmen cannot
different between the grass and the
crops,’’ he said.
Analysts have however observed
that while government is working
towards establishing ranches, the
herdsmen have kicked against it. “The
herdsmen will not accept ranches; we
shall prefer to explore our traditional
grazing routes/reserves,’’ Alhaji Sale
Bayeri, the spokesman of Miyetti Allah
Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria
(MACBAN), the umbrella body of the
Fulani herdsmen, said recently.
MACBAN reaffirmed Bayeri’s
position during the public hearing on
perennial clashes between herdsmen
and farmers organised by the Senate
Joint Committee on Agriculture and
Rural Development, National Security
and Intelligence.
In a presentation by its National
Legal Adviser, Mohammed Bello
Tukur, MACBAN suggested that
stakeholders should rather demarcate
routes and cattle resting points with
support from technical and financial
partners. “MACBAN rejects the
setting up of ranches and support the
establishment of grazing reserves; we
want government to create a ministry
of livestock development to ease the
establishment of the reserves,’’ he
stated.
On his part, Sen. Jerry Useini, who
represents Plateau South, where the
ranch for Plateau is to be established,
said that he was opposed to its
establishment because there was no
consultation before the decision was
taken. “We just woke up and heard
that cattle ranches will be established in parts of Plateau. Such decision
cannot be popular because no one
was consulted and neither was any
wide enlightenment carried out,’’ he
said.
Mr Timothy Golu, who represents
Pankshin/Kanke/Kanam in the
House of Representatives, agreed
that ranches were better options but
insisted that some issues ought to be
addressed. “Ranches are far better
than grazing reserves if we are to
check incessant clashes between
farmers and herdsmen, but we must
be able to listen to what the ordinary
farmers feel about what is being
worked out.
“We must carry the farmers and
traditional rulers along in carving out
the affected areas. We must carefully
work out and ensure payment of
compensations, otherwise we shall
only be breeding another recipe for
even worse crises,’’ he said.
Malam Adamu Palna, a farmer in
Mangu, shared Golu’s fears, saying:
“decisions are taken at the top with
the real farmers and owners of the
land only getting to know at the
point of execution. “If we want these
schemes to succeed, we must involve
the very local farmer because it is he
that knows where the shoe pinches.’’
On his part, Prof. Obadiah Mailafia,
political economist, argued that that
the first step towards the success
of the ranches would be to conduct
a census of herdsmen and their
cattle. “We must take a census of the
herdsmen and their cattle. Those of
them that are not Nigerians should
be repatriated to respective nations.
“Ghana did that recently and
repatriated 50,000 herdsmen and
their cattle. Nigeria may have to do
that if the step will bring peace to
our nation,’’ he said. In his response,
Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau said
that much pain was taken to examine
all options before the ranches option
was agreed upon and solicited
stakeholders’ support on the decision.
“No human policy or plan can
be perfect, but we want those with
reservations about the ranches to
suggest something better because it
is not enough to just oppose what is
being worked out since what we are
doing is in the interest of peace,’’ he
said.
Also, Gov. Samuel Ortom of
Benue said “the ranches remain
the generally acceptable practice
and will serve as the permanent
solution to the unending clashes
between the herdsmen and farmers.’’
By and large, analysts agree that
although the option may have its
shortcomings, it remains the best
method of curbing clashes among
farmers and herdsmen. NAN

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