NIGERIA’S Northern State Governors Forum (NSGF) has finally accepted the recommendation of its counterparts the Southern Governors Forum and conceded that open grazing is no longer sustainable and all cattle should now be raised in ranches.
Earlier this month, the Southern Governors Forum met in Asaba, the Delta State capital and agreed among other things to outlaw open grazing. This was widely welcomed by civil society groups but several northern politicians have expressed their opposition to the move, describing it as attack on the Fulani way of life.
However, after several weeks of debating the matter, the NSGF has agreed that open grazing is unsustainable and has initiated measures to end it. Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, the NSGF chairman, has even asked the federal government to release funds for the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).
Speaking during the recent seventh annual lecture of the Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation in Kaduna, he stated that his northern colleagues had agreed to adopt ranching. In 2018, a former agriculture minister Chief Audu Ogbeh proposed the NLTP and since then, the National Economic Council under the chairmanship of vice president Professor Yemi Osinbajo adopted the NLTP.
Since 2018, however, NLTP has been a subject of national debate with some state governments indicating an interest in kicking off the plan while some others rejected it on the basis that cattle rearing was strictly a private business. At the annual lecture, Governor Lalong noted that northern governors have accepted modern methods of grazing to explore the business angle of cattle rearing.
He added that the NSGF has been at the forefront of pushing for solutions to open grazing and was aggressively sensitising herdsmen to adapt new methods of herding by ranching or other acceptable modern methods. Governor Lalong said the northern governors would not politicise the situation to create more problems.
“Let me emphasise that we have no intention of politicising this matter. Our interest is to transform it into a purely economic activity and also end the negative aspects of the current practice without creating new problems.
“We, as northern governors, therefore adopted the National Livestock Transformation Programme and called on the federal government to release funds to willing states to start. Kaduna has a ranch with Dano Milk as a pilot project, Plateau has sent a bill on ranching to the state house of assembly, while Zamfara, Kano, Taraba, Niger, Nasarawa have all started ranch constructions.”
He added that states in the region have commenced the process of turning cattle rearing into a huge business for the benefit of herders and the region’s economy. NLTP, as an approach, seeks to provide ranches for livestock with a view to mitigating the incessant farmer-herder clashes.