In the last few years, Nigerians have seen growing tension between farmers and herdsmen in the country as pastoralists seek greener grazing fields for their livestock. To check this expanding conflict, many stakeholders and well-meaning Nigerians have proposed that a strategic intervention is needed in curbing the age-old feud. Suggestions have continued to pour in and the consensus of opinion seems to point to the creation of a thriving ranching system.
Even governors of the Northern states during their last meeting on the issue described open grazing as obsolete. They maintained that the current system of herding conducted mainly through open grazing is no longer sustainable in view of growing urbanisation and population of the country.
Presently a combination of increasing heat and limited rainfall have drastically reduced natural land available for grazing in the far North. This situation has compelled herdsmen to move from the North to Middle-belt states and the South, where there is some respite. Incessant clashes between migrating herdsmen and farmers have shown that such movements will only lead to more tension.
This was the reason for the creation of a more sustainable instrument called the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP). Apart from standing as the solution to ethnic and farmer-herders clashes, the NLTP guarantees economic prospects of efficient livestock and ecological management. The plan has six pillars through which it aims to transform the livestock production system in Nigeria along market-oriented value chains, while ensuring an atmosphere of peace and justice.
In line with her progressive goals, and passion to remain a trailblazer in national development, the Plateau State Government is set to be among the first few states in the country to domesticate the National Livestock Transformation Programme by approving a bill for the establishment of the Plateau State Livestock Transformation Programme which when passed into law, will promote livestock business anchored on ranching.
The State Executive Council at its weekly meeting approved the transmission of the bill to the Plateau State House of Assembly for consideration by the legislature.
Briefing journalists after the EXCO meeting, Commissioner for Information and Communication, Dan Manjang, said the bill is to facilitate the smooth transition from open grazing to ranching.
Manjang said the State has been working assiduously to put in place all necessary requirements for the takeoff of the model ranching programme at the Wase and Kanam Reserves, which are wholly owned by the State Government.
He assured that once the programme takes off and alternatives are provided, people will no longer be allowed to move around with livestock in the state. Already, local and international investors have shown interest in putting their money in the pilot phase of the livestock transformation program.
Secretary of the State Livestock Implementation Committee, Prof. John Wade, said the programme has zero land grabbing as nobody’s land will be appropriated for ranching. The government, he said, will put into use its gazetted reserves in Wase and Kanam for the takeoff and thereafter, anyone who wants to go into ranching will follow the guidelines provided by the law.
Prof. Wade further noted that the state is approaching ranching strictly as a business, hence the directive by the Governor for robust sensitisation to enable more citizens key into modern livestock business. He said the notion that one ethnic group has a monopoly of the business is incorrect, and such must be discountenanced in the new development.
According to the secretary, the ranching policy will accommodate other species of livestock apart from cows to bring in more diversification of the agricultural sector.
Commissioner for Justice and Attorney, General Chrysanthus Ahmadu, equally explained that the proposed law takes care of herders, farmers, and other interests in the livestock value chain. He said in ranching, there will be dairy and beef production, fodder production, marketing, and associated businesses that will provide employment for many.
Chrysanthus Ahmadu maintained that this will go a long way in ending the destruction of farmlands by livestock, clashes between farmers and herders, and unnecessary violence that is rooted in the unsavoury relationship between them.
Allaying all forms of fear, Makut Simon Macham, Director of Press & Public Affairs to the Governor of Plateau State, stressed that, ”The people of Plateau State have been reassured that no land will be grabbed by anyone as there is already an anti-land grabbing law signed by the governor which prescribes stiff penalties for violators”.