A poll published on Punch has revealed that ranching might be the best solution to averting the current face-offs between nomadic Fulani herdsmen and local farmers across various states in Nigeria, with designated grazing ranges being the next best thing – Punch reports.
A ranch is a cattle farm consisting of a large tract of land along with facilities need to raise cattle and other livestock. The cattle ranch is often a purchased or rented land, and its use would confine Fulani herdsmen to keeping their cattle on a large piece of land exclusively for raising cattle.
Respondents in the poll argued that most nations of the world practice ranching to confine cattle to a piece of land, and that this should be practised in Nigeria to forestall incessant confrontations between nomadic cattle rearers and farmers whose crops get damaged by roving cattle.
In the poll, 68% of the respondents agreed that ranching is the best, while 14% think that creating free grazing zones across the country for the exclusive use of herdsman would be great, while 17% of the participants think ranching or grazing ranges would not work and suggested other solutions.
Some of the respondents expressed worry that herdsmen graze their cattle at the expense of farmers who have laboured to cultivate crops, rather than providing alternative means to feeding the cattle since cattle-rearing is a very lucrative business upon which several generations have relied.
“The nomadic way of rearing animals in Nigeria is outdated and will not meet current and future meat production in largest black nation. Nigeria government with the support of state and farmer associations should set up farms. This should be looked at from pure business rather than outdated and criminal free grazing. Any future killing or harassment of farmers should be treated as murder case and treason against the nation,” a respondent said.
Some respondents warned that free grazing of cattle is outdated and nomadic herdsmen should realize this, adding that security operatives should issue certificates of cattle-breeding and clamp down on those that do not have it as a way of dealing with criminals among them.
One participant in the poll reasoned that problems of cattle transportation and commercial needs are factors behind Fulanis moving cattle down to the south of the country. According to the respondent, herdsmen move their cattle on foot down to the south to sell them and then graze them along the journey to keep them alive by the time they get to the market.
The market for cattle and cattle-meat is more lucrative in the south and eastern parts of Nigeria – and herdsmen would only move the cattle to these profitable markets because no cargo trains are available to transport the animals. It is therefore only natural that the cattle be grazed while they made the trip to the south where they are sold.
But with the introduction of cargo trains, herdsmen would be spared the trouble of herding down the cattle to the markets and also grazing the animals as they move down to where they are to be sold.
Meanwhile, the presidency has come under heavy attacks from a cross-section of Nigerians over the impunity with which nomadic Fulani herdsmen are ransacking communities that challenge them for destroying their crops.