Experts urge transformation of grazing reserves to ranches
To curb the lingering crisis between farmers and herders in parts of the country, experts in the livestock sub-sector have stressed the need to transform all grazing reserves in the country to cattle ranches since cattle are national assets.
They maintained that if the over 25 million cattle in the country were well managed, cattle could have been top foreign exchange earner while boosting food security, employment and wealth creation.
Registrar of the Nigeria Institute of Animal Science (NIAS), Professor Festus Iyayi, stated this at a press conference yesterday in Abuja on the lingering farmers/herders’ crisis in the country.
According to him, cattle remain a valuable national asset to the country and their production must be sustained.
Iyayi pointed out that the root of the conflict had gone beyond a familiar problem bordering on land and water use, obstruction of the traditional migration route, livestock theft and crop damage, drought, desertification, degraded pastures, dried up water resources across the northern Sahelian belt.
This, according to him, has forced several herders to migrate from the north to the south in search of water and pastures for their herds.
Lamenting that Boko Haram terrorism in the North East, banditry and cattle rustling in the North West and North Central zones exacerbated the crisis, NIAS recommended the establishment of ranches as a way of resolving the crisis.
“We must move away from the transhumance mode to the modern and more sustainable ranching method of cattle production.
“All the 140 gazetted grazing reserves in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, Zamafara and Oyo states as well the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) should be transformed to ranches,” Iyayi stated.
He called on the Federal Government to work with the various chambers of commerce and industry in the involvement of the private sector for operationalisation of the ranching and commercial pasture projects.
Also, to save the poultry industry, the institute urged the Federal Government to halt the export of soya beans and maize and grant import permit at the official rate.
According to Iyayi, about 10 million jobs in the poultry industry are on the line, as most small and medium-scale poultry farmers may fold up due to the inability to meet up with the high cost of feeds stemming from the high cost of maize and soya beans.