Cattle colonies: The massive debate

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    “Is Nigeria prepared for cattle colonies?’ is an article on the raging debate on plans to create cattle colonies to curtail the incessant herdsmen/farmers clashes throughout Nigeria.

    Illustration: Cattle dealers
    Illustration: Cattle sellers

    By Ephraims Sheyin, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

    The Federal Government’s plan to ascertain cattle colonies as a manner of checking the incessant herdsmen/farmers clashes has continued to draw reactions and huge curiosity because it was introduced by the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, three weeks in the past.

    Ogbeh, whereas unveiling the coverage, mentioned that 16 states had indicated curiosity within the scheme and have been ready to volunteer parcels of land for it.

    Reports from throughout the states indicated that the coverage has turn out to be a difficulty for dialogue at newspaper stands, social joints, eateries and places of work, with anxious Nigerians both condemning it, or suggesting that it has some advantage that must be thought-about.

    Many state governments in addition to ethnic and regional associations have met over the coverage and took positions, whereas many extra are nonetheless conferring earlier than deciding.

    Already, many states within the south have overtly rejected the coverage, whereas some governors within the north, who earlier endorsed the thought, have backed out.

    Kogi governor Yahaya Bello, for example, who was quoted as endorsing the coverage, has been informed by two of the three main ethnic teams within the state – the Igala and Yoruba – to avoid their territory in his seek for the land for use as cattle colony.

    The Kogi scenario is much like Plateau’s, one of many states listed by Ogbeh as able to allocate land for the aim. Some of Plateau’s leaders have overtly rejected the thought and vowed to withstand it.

    Cattle breeders
    Cattle breeders sad with grazing legislation in Benue State

    First to fireplace the salvo was Senator Jonah Jang, Gov. Simon Lalong’s predecessor, who mentioned that his Plateau Central constituents have been against the creation of cattle colonies and weren’t able to relinquish their ancestral lands for use for that.

    Mr Titus Alams, former Speaker, Plateau House of Assembly, additionally voiced his opposition to the coverage, declaring that Plateau has no land to spare as its farmers don’t even have sufficient.

    With extra voices kicking in opposition to the coverage, Lalong capitulated on Friday and informed Plateau residents, by way of an announcement signed by his media aide, Dan Manjang, that no Plateau land can be carved out and donated for use as a cattle colony.

    As the coverage will get more and more controversial, pundits seem misplaced over the distinction between the colonies and ranches. Or even the grazing reserves the National Assembly rejected in 2008.

    Ogbeh defined: “Cattle colonies are higher for the breeding of cows as a result of 30 or 40 ranches can share the identical colony. A ranch is often owned by a person or an organization with typically few cows. In a colony, you might discover 30,000 cows owned by completely different house owners.

    “The motive why we’re designing the colony is that we need to put together on a big scale, on economic system of scale, a spot the place many homeowners of cattle can co-exist, and the place cows will be fed nicely, as a result of we will make their feeds. They can get good water to drink. Cows drink quite a lot of water. We can provide them inexperienced fodder.’’

    From the minister’s clarification, colonies can be bigger and sit on lands acquired by the Federal Government, in contrast to ranches the place cattle breeders will purchase land in accordance with extant guidelines and topic their operations to the norms and cultures of their host communities.

    Agriculture minister Ogbeh, an advocate of cattle colonies

    But for Dr. Sylvanus Atoh, a retired trainer and farmer, the thought of cattle colony has remained largely unpopular as a result of it sounds “moderately summary’’.

    “The concept could also be a very good one, however many individuals nonetheless have no idea what it means and subsequently suspect that it could be a instrument getting used to attain some sinister agenda.

    “The initiators haven’t clearly defined its modus operandi, thus giving an impression that communities can be created or carved out of present ones solely for herders, availing them entry to lands that aren’t theirs,’’ he Agriculture mentioned.

    He suggested authorities to step up efforts to deal with fears by offering solutions to some essential posers.

    “There are many posers. If the land is acquired and the cattle colony is established, who owns that land? Who controls it? Does it belong to the Federal Government, conventional communities or households from whom it had been collected?

    “What of the financial bushes in such lands? Do they belong to the unique house owners of the land or the herdsmen occupying the colonies?’’

    Atoh expressed the concern that the cattle colonies might develop into “states’’ inside a state as a result of they might be autonomous communities whose life fashion won’t be the identical with their host communities.

    Mr Emeka Anosike, Chairman, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), has additionally expressed reservations concerning the efficiency of the cattle colonies as a panacea to the herdsmen/farmers clashes.

    “The minister has mentioned colony will host 40 ranches which signifies that tons of of herders will settle there. Such herders will enhance in quantity and search extra land to occupy which might trigger extra clashes.

    “Again, the lands to be donated are arable lands belonging to individuals which perpetually denies them of their ancestral property. If every state donates 10,000 hectares of land as proposed, it is going to translate to 370,000 hectares of land mass given to a bunch for private enterprise.

    “Nigerian communities are agrarian in nature and want lands for his or her agricultural actions; taking away scarce arable lands will impede farming actions in rural communities.

    “The finest step is to encourage particular person cattle house owners to amass land for ranching which is the practise in different civilised climes,’’ he mentioned.

    Some analysts have additionally argued that cattle colonies should first be preceded by a census of herdsmen and their cattle, in order to know what quantity to cater for.

    One such analyst is Mr Adamu Yusuf, a retired civil servant now a farmer based mostly in Saminaka, Kaduna State.

    “As it’s, we have no idea the variety of cattle in Nigeria. We have no idea the variety of herdsmen both. So, how can we successfully plan?,’’ he requested.

    Maize farmer

    He mentioned census of herdsmen was necessary in view of latest observations that a lot of the herdsmen attacking rural farming communities weren’t Nigerians.

    Yusuf recalled that Kaduna Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, in 2016, confirmed that herdsmen attacking rural communities in that state weren’t Nigerians.

    He quoted the governor as saying that he had established contact with the attackers who have been based mostly in some West African international locations, and had begun discussions with them towards halting the assaults.

    “So, if we established such cattle colonies, what’s the assure that they are going to be occupied by native herdsmen and never foreigners?,’’ he requested rhetorically.

    Accounts of assaults on Plateau rural communities, as relayed by their conventional rulers, seem to lend credence to Yusuf’s place.

    The monarchs, at a gathering organised by the Plateau Police Command and held in Jos lately, mentioned that the attackers have been very completely different from the herdsmen they’d associated with, over time.

    Mr Patrick Mandong, the Gomre of Kuru and Rev. Ronku Akaa (rtd) the Braa Nggwe in Bassa, all disclosed that the attackers have been “unusual individuals’’, and urged authorities to try to rid the nation of such strangers.

    Like Yusuf, the monarchs suggested that effort to settle the herdsmen and their cattle should be preceded by a radical screening in order to keep away from accommodating international components that weren’t involved in peace.

    But as authorities trudges on with the coverage, Ogbeh has tried to assuage the fears by saying that communal land possession wouldn’t be transferred to herdsmen wherever colonies are established.

    “There isn’t any reality within the speculations that authorities is conspiring to grant supremacy over communal land to herdsmen. Government just isn’t utilizing herdsmen to colonise anybody as a result of the mission is being executed in partnership with the federal government of states that volunteered land for it.’’

    He mentioned that the Federal Government would fund the mission whereas these wishing to profit from it is going to pay some charges.

    Ogbeh mentioned that authorities would quickly maintain a stakeholders’ assembly on the implementation of the brand new coverage in order to hearken to the complaints and tackle the fears.

    Dr. Ahmed Muhammad, former Executive Director, National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Vom, believed the colonies have their deserves. However, he urged that ranching stays the best choice for the cattle breeders as a result of “it’s extra compact’’.

    He suggested authorities to promote the ranching concept to the herdsmen with conviction, saying that it could make it simpler to attract a line between Nigerian and international herdsmen, who can’t be steadied in a single place.

    “The herdsmen additionally want a greater life and can purchase into an initiative that guarantees them that; they need to be enlightened to focus extra on high quality as an alternative of the amount of cows,’’ he mentioned.

    Nigerian farmers
    Rice farmers harvesting

    Muhammad mentioned there may be have to settle cows in a single place, and attributed the opposition to the cattle colonies on the delay in establishing them when land was out there.

    “Government ought to have established the colonies, grazing reserves or ranches way back. It can be troublesome now as a result of the land is getting smaller.

    “Livestock has been uncared for and extra consideration paid to crops. There are grazing reserves and cattle routes in each state; the respective governments know this as a result of they have been all gazetted. It is unlucky that they’ve been offered or became settlements,’’ he mentioned.

    Ironically, some leaders of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), the umbrella physique of the herdsmen, don’t consider on the necessity for cattle colonies.

    Alhaji Sadiq Gidado, its Chairman in Awka, Anambra State, informed newsmen lately that cattle colonies wouldn’t work “particularly within the South-East geopolitical zone’’.

    “In the South-East, the proposed cattle colonies can’t work; you can not simply take anyone’s land and provides to a different individual to conduct his personal enterprise; it isn’t proper,’’ he mentioned at a press convention in Awka.

    He mentioned that the Anambra authorities has devised a manner of avoiding herdsmen/farmers clashes by working in synergy with safety operatives, farmers and herdsmen by the Cattle Menace Control Committee.

    Gidado, who dismissed cattle colonies and ranches as “political creations’’ by politicians to convey disharmony between farmers and herdsmen, blamed the frictions on migrant cattle breeders, who weren’t members of MACBAN, saying that the physique had usual out some measures to forestall future incidents.

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    “The regulation is that you simply solely graze the place there aren’t any farms. If you destroy farmlands deliberately or unintentionally, you should be punished for what you’ve gotten executed and be made to pay for what you’ve gotten destroyed,’’ he mentioned.

    As the talk rages on, many observers have seen advantage in Gidado’s place that what was required is a workable resolution that can shield the pursuits of all sides.

    Observers urged the federal government to seek the advice of extensively to reach at an enduring resolution that can tackle mutual fears and restore the age-old cordial relationship between the farmer and herdsman. (NANfeatures)

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