Plans to establish cattle ranches as lasting solution to the frequent clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria has been reaffirmed by the Federal Government on Tuesday during the one-day public hearing organised by the Senate Committees on Agriculture and National Security and Intelligence.
However, the Fulani herdsmen under the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, rejected the proposal of the government to establish cattle ranches. They rather prefer creation of grazing routes that will enable them to operate in any part of Nigeria.
The National Legal Adviser of the body, Bello Tukur, said that what they wanted was the establishment of grazing reserves and routes across the country.
Mr. Tukur said some of the herdsmen already established ranches in their various areas of operations and there was no need for government to do same.
But this was objected by farmers from Southern and Central regions who said herdsmen cannot continue to use grazing routes, asserting that the practice is the cause of the constant clashes between them and the herdsmen.
Members of the Ohaneze Ndigbo said that they were opposed to the bill in the House of Representatives seeking to establish grazing reserves and routes in the country. They also expressed their total support for the establishment of ranches in the country as a means of ending the recurring conflicts between herdsmen and farmers.
Mr. Paddy Njoku, who spoke on behalf of the President-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, said that a cattle rearing was private business, asserting that it was wrong for the Federal Government to propose to acquire people’s lands for grazing reserves, and urged the government to ensure cattle do not destroy farmlands.
He called for the immediate resettlement and rehabilitation of the victims of the recent brutal attacks by herdsmen in parts of the country.
The Minister of State, Agriculture, Audu Ogbe who was represented by his assistant, Mr. Heineken Lokpobiri, in his words at the event titled: “Tackling the Perennial Conflicts between Farmers and Cattle Herdsmen,” said constant problem between the Fulani herdsmen and communities was as a result of climate change resulting from global warming and desertification.
He explained that herdsmen had no option than to migrate southwards to find pastures for their animals, to stave off starvation in the North.
Mr. Lokpobiri said that nomadic cattle has become obsolete in a civilized world, stressing how important it is to emulate developed countries like U.S and install adequate ranches and food to the avoid deadly clashes.
According to him, with ranches, the livestock would be healthier, more productive, while the herdsmen would avoid unnecessary attacks. Adding that they would also be able to give their children access to formal education.
“Global warming, desertification and Boko Haram insurgency are some of the factors that forced the herdsmen out of the North down to the South to find grasses for their cows.
“They used to argue that nomadic cattle rearing is a tradition but we have to ask, as a tradition, is it profitable to the rearers; is it sustainable in the modern realities?
“Traditions do change based on realities on ground.” Therefore we have to give a new orientation to herdsmen for improved productivity.”
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Supporters for the establishment of ranches across the nation at the event include – representatives of the Tiv and Idoma nations in Benue, Southern Kaduna and the South-South regions.