Herdsmen in Nasarawa State have said they have started embracing ranching having realised the benefits of keeping their cattle in single settlements even if they go out once in a while to graze when the grasses are fresh but still within their own settlement.
A member of Miyatti Alla Cattle Breeders of Nigeria who doubles as Sarkin Yaki, Gaate of Gaate community, Kokona LGA, Nasarawa State,
Farmrade Retson Tedheke, explained that they are trying to create an agro ecosystem where both herdsmen and crop farmers synergise within a particular settlement, while they go about their daily businesses.
Ranching, a method of raising livestock under range conditions has been suggested as the best solution to the incessant Fulani herdsmen/famers crises.
Already the federal government in its effort to end the spate of violence resulting from clashes between farmers and herders had selected seven states in the north, Nasarawa State inclusive, to build settlements for herders; hence some herders are already making moves to adopt the approach.
This is coming months after several debates on the need to curb or manage open grazing to prevent land encroachments which have been partly responsible for major clashes between herders and farmers, leading to loss of lives and properties in the last few years.
The herdsmen who spoke with LEADERSHIP Weekend in Nasarawa State said they had carried out practical experiments in just one year and the results have shown that apart from the huge prospects in cattle ranching, the decision, which they said though pricey, has helped reduce the risk of cattle rustling, farmer-herders clashes, while providing jobs and ultimately uncovering the huge economic potentials in cattle business.
‘‘What we are trying to do is to create a system where we can properly manage a proper cropping and animal husbandry system whereby everything within the farming environment is useful. You see, almost every waste in the farm can be utilise as feeds and in return, you have dung as manure for the crops’’, said Tedheke.
Asked how they manage to feed the herds of cattle in the ranch, particularly in this season, he said every chaff from crops within the farm are used to produce feeds for the cattle, using liquid like molasses, which contains the necessary vitamins that also help them feed and grow well.
‘‘We are already bringing in different species of cattle, both those meant for the production of milk and beef, said Tedheke. “What we are doing right now is to increase them by numbers and we are looking at having thousands of them here and the next phase will be the dairy process’’ he explained.
‘‘However, what we are doing right now is semi-ranching and semi open crazy, though within our land. That goes to tell you that what most people think is not practically possible, is realistic, the traditional leader had said pointing at the herds of cattle.
‘‘As you can see, our cattle are looking fresh, healthy and in less than two years, we will have system that is all encompasses in animal husbandry. You are not just taking the waste from the farm to feed the cattle but you can as well use their dung as direct organic manure and in the future we can use them to create renewable energy’’.
‘‘From what we are doing, we have not been able to provide jobs but we have been able to bring the Fulani community around together and they are learning from what we are doing here.
‘‘We have been able to take in the Fulani, used their experience and created an harmonious relationship between the Fulani and the community and also the Fulani are beginning to understand that if you treat your cattle this way, you are going to have better milk yield and healthy meat for consumption in the case of beef.
‘‘We are better off now than when we used to go from one places to another. When Mr Retson brought us into the farm, we thought ranching was going to be difficult not just for us alone but for the cattle’’, said Aminu Muhammed, a Fulani.
‘‘Although we take them for a walk during the raining season when the grasses are fresh, they are beginning to get used to staying in the ranch and with time they will adapt to ranching’’, said Aminu who called on the government to encourage the process.
Nikita Musa, who spoke through a translator, said there are no better ways to prevent not only rustlers from stealing cattle and killing herders in unsecured locations and the clashes between famers and herdsmen than what is already been practice here.
‘‘We have not witness any major security breach related to what we hear in other parts of the north. We stay here day and night taking care of these cattle without stress unlike when we used to take them from place to place to graze’’.
‘‘I think the system is really working and we have to give credit to our coordinator who has taken his time to teach us how to breed cattle with less energy, though it is expensive, it is cheaper because and profitable from what I have seen’’, he added.
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