With the controversies and, in some cases, crises generated by open grazing, it has become obvious that the old practice of rearing cattle is not the way to go. It is gratifying to note that there is now a consensus among stakeholders that ranching is the most effective way of avoiding those controversies and the crises that result from them.
As a newspaper, we commend this bold move towards addressing the issue that is causing misunderstanding between communities and the herders across the country. It may have been delayed over time due some other seemingly mundane considerations. But that this realisation is manifesting now is worthy of applause.
Unfortunately, the herders/farmers clash has degenerated to the level that it is considered a threat to national security and which may have roused this action that is intended to stop the drift. It is from this perspective that we consider as heart-warming the Northern governors’ resolve to accept ranching as a means towards resolving the matter. We recall that Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje had earlier urged cattle breeders to come and ranch in the state.
It is important to also point out that the resolution of the Northern governors has been accepted by leaders of other regions. The Senate also endorsed ranching last week. As a matter of fact, the red chamber, after a three-hour intense debate, urged the 36 state governors to implement the 2018 Federal Government’s National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) in a bid to curb the conflict between farmers and herders across the country. From North Central, specifically Benue State, to the South East and South West, the frictions between herdsmen and farmers have resonated and brought a measure of urgency in the effort to find a lasting and acceptable solution to the matter.
While the back and forth raged over the profiling of the Fulani herdsmen as the major culprits in acts of kidnapping and rape in these areas, the matter came to a head with the quit notice issued by some states to herders. At that point, there was genuine fear that the situation might escalate into a civil war. The interventions of some governors in trying to resolve the matter is hereby immensely commended.
We are enamoured by discussions on ranching. There is no doubt that livestock as a major industry, play a key role in global food security as a main source of dairy products and meat. Still, we are not oblivious of the environmental crisis relating to desertification which has increased the tendency for large migrations towards areas that cattle can be fed.
The argument has been made that moving cattle for long distances doesn’t provide the best outcomes from the cattle much less the herders. As the debate goes, the long and strenuous trekking that the cattle are exposed to make them rather less robust than those that are reared in ranches thereby making the cattle less productive.
What’s more, with the heightened security situation that now trails the current herding system, the resolution on ranching could not be more logical and in tune with the mood of the time. In our opinion, the discourse on ranching should go beyond rhetoric. And central to the success of the initiative are the governors. The fact that they are now at the fore front of this discourse is encouraging. It is critical, however, that political will is important if the consensus reached on ranching is to be followed through. This is essential because of the long-held perception of governments and their penchant to slack at critical points when will power to pursue policies to concrete conclusion are required.
We believe that interested states should begin the process of providing land and other facilities for ranching as soon as possible. Delay in starting off this initiative will impact negatively on government’s resolve to tackle this problem and rest it for good.
Another important aspect in the process of ensuring that the ranching project comes to fruition are public enlightenment and sensitisation. We expect that by now the government ought to have commenced strategic interface with the various stakeholders considering how sensitive the issues are. The concerns about land grab and alleged expansionist agenda must be addressed and disabused quickly and firmly.
We also caution that the ranching initiative should not be politicised. The country cannot afford any form of politics in this matter. We expect that all stakeholders involved in making this idea a reality ought to put aside partisan politics and forge a common front to address this challenge once and for all in the interest of posterity. Action is of the essence and the time is now.