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CATTLE RANCHING AS A PANACEA TO HERDSMEN CRSIS IN NIGERIA
1.1. Background of the Study
Ranching is a very significant change of the pastoralist system strategy. It changes the mobility nature of pastoralism where traditionally there are no limits of grazing of the available pastures, into controlled grazing. It also changes the common property character of the pastoralist land where all land is open for pastures without any individual ownership. Ranching is now the dominant system of ruminant livestock production in North America, Australia and parts of South America. This is because the advantages of cattle ranching and it importance cannot be over emphasize Some European systems could also be described as ranching, though enclosures are often small and animals are frequently given supplements in the field (Ibid). In countries like United States, (Ibid), communal grazing pastoralism was prevalent in the 19th century, but now the grazing systems are fully enclosed (Ibid) From 1990 to 2003, the cattle herd in the Northern part of the country grew by 140% from 26.6 million to 64 million heads. Increasing demand and the sector’s advantages in the region suggest that ranching will continue to grow in the region. Nevertheless, the growth of extensive ranching in the region is worrying especially because of increased deforestation. Scientific and modern economic intervention into pastoralism has generally targeted the mobility and communal grazing characteristics of the system which results into sedentarized and most likely the enclosed, ranching system. This intervention has implication that the pastoralist ecosystem is a limited and valuable resource. The traditional pastoralist perception is contrary to this implication, and considers and wishes to consider that pastoral land is essentially vast wilderness with no instituted limitation of use (no use limits except the availability of pastures). This obviously contradicts most intervention outlook. Even with most prominent advocates for promotion and improvement of pastoralist resource exploitation strategy, the baseline seems somewhere to be based on sedentarization or predictable location prior to other proposed measures like nutritional and veterinary assistance for livestock, services such as education (schools) and health; and setting up emergency grazing areas [Ibid]. There has been extensive scholarly analysis of the livelihood and sustainability of pastoralism as a way of life of a significant proportion of the human population. Much criticism exists arguing that mobility of large herds of livestock is stressful to the environment as it would cause extensive removal of vegetation. Repeated uncontrolled grazing often ends up into bare land where vegetation is completely removed. Due to livestock trampling topsoil of an area usually becomes much pulverized while the immediate subsoil beneath becomes severely compacted. Pulverized soil is prone to extensive loss of soil through wind erosion while when it rains sheet erosion sweeps away very easily most of the pulverized soil. The surface run-off becomes much enhanced by the compacted soil condition. Therefore, while rainfall would be stimulant for vegetation re-growth, because of extensive vegetation removal and compaction the rainfall instead becomes an enhancer of bareness of the soil after washing away all the soil that would support vegetation re-growth. In the Sahel in Africa, it has been reported that vegetation removal by livestock in the area is believed to have increased soil surface albedo to the extent of causing reduction of rainfall and rapid desertification.
Cattle was introduced to Africa from the Middle Eastern empires as well as by nomadic herdsmen of Eurasian steppes between 5000 and 2300 B.C. Cattle are found all over Africa, and for centuries nomadic tribes and semi-pastoral farming populations were able to harmonize a balance between cattle rearing and environmental constraints, using age-old migratory practices and animal husbandry techniques to ensure sustainability. It is a well-known fact that cattle complexes are well developed in India and Africa, so much so that the human-bovine relationship has come together at various times giving birth to elaborate cultural networks that have help in shaping economic, environmental and political dynamics of societies, like the earliest clash between the nomadic herdsmen and farmers that began some 6,000 years ago when horsemen of the Eurasian steppes first encountered the Neolithic farmers of Europe (Rifkin, 1993). Statistical data suggest that there are currently 1.28 billion cattle populating the earth surface, grazing on about 24% of its landmass with their combined weight exceeding that of human population on earth (Rifkin, 1993). Reliable statistics on livestock holdings for Northern Nigeria did not exist, but careful estimates suggested a total of 10 to 11 million cattle in the early 1970s and, after the severe drought, 8.5 million in the late 1970s. The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that in 1987 there were 12.2 million cattle, 13.2 million sheep, 26.0 million goats, 700,000 donkeys, 250,000 horses, 18,0000 camels found mostly in the Sahel savanna around Lake Chad, and are mostly owned by villagers rather than by commercial operators. In Nigeria, the livestock subsector accounted for about 2 percent of GDP in the 1980s and the figure has increased tremendously in the 2000s. Most of Nigeria's sheep and goats in the north, where the Fulani herders maintained an approximate ratio of 30 percent sheep and goats to 70 percent cattle with about 40 percent of northern non-Fulani farming households estimated to keep sheep and goats for various reasons (Otchere, 1986; FAO, 2009).
Establishment of ranches and the movement of beef instead of cattle have been identified by stakeholders as ways to end the incessant clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in the country. Over the years there have been uncountable clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Benue state, and other part of the country which have resulted to loss of lives and properties with several others being displaced from their homes. The clashes are fast becoming unbecoming, and a major scourge confronting the nation which is begging for urgent intervention of the Federal Government. No less than ten reported cases have occurred since the beginning of the year and government has not come out with a concrete plan to contain the scourge. According to a publication of the daily independent on March 9, said the activities of these herdsmen if not checked could result to war which at this time will not be good enough for the country. They, therefore, called for the establishment of ranches so as to allow the herdsmen feed their cattle in a concentrated area, instead of moving them around and destroying peoples’ farms.
The Fulani indisputably represent a significant component of the Nigerian economy. They constitute the major breeders of cattle, the main source of meat, the most available and cheap source of animal proteins consumed by Nigerians. The Fulani own over 90% of the nation’s livestock population which accounts for one-third of agricultural GDP and 3.2% of the nation’s GDP (Eniola, 2007). Furthermore, the contribution of the Fulani to the local food chain and national food security cannot be overstressed. The Fulani, with their dominance in the Sahel region, are the best known and most numerous of all the pastoral groups in Nigeria. The traditional and unique Fulani encampment (ruga) consisting of temporary structures made of stalks, closely knit family members and livestock is the natural habitat of the orthodox Fulbe settlement (Eniola, 2007) (Eniola, 2007). As the state cannot regulate the mutual coexistence of its citizens in the harmonious sharing of the competed resources, the parties may have to resolve to struggle among themselves with no retreat, no surrender and for the survival of the fittest. The failure of the state, for example to resolve the ‘settler/ ‘indigene’ identity and the inherent struggles over resources can be adduced to have brought dangerous dimensions of economic and political elements in the Fulani pastoralists and farmers’ conflicts (Fiki and Lee, B. 2004). Issues bordering on local community security, safety and development are paramount in the enhancement of governance and increase or decrease in agitation for control of resources as well as encroachment of the rights of others. All these have implications for survival and struggles between or amongst communities. Again, local resistance to state policies is central in resource-use through strengthening of community capacity to manage resources and deal with conflicts.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
Cattle herding is dominated almost entirely by the Fulani tribe in Nigeria. Iro (1994) gave a vivid documentation of the herding system of the Fulani in Nigeria, and most of what is presented was derived from his account. According to him, herding is a daunting task, and contrary to widespread belief, it is not the delight of the Fulani- they herd not as a matter of choice but as a necessity. In as much as herdsmen care about their cattle’s as a matter of necessity, so does the farmer treasure his or her crop not because it is necessary but because it is indispensable to life. It is against this backdrop that the researcher decides to investigate the efficacy of cattle ranching as a panacea to herdsmen crises in Nigeria.
1.3. Research questions
- What is the relationship between cattle ranching and combating the herdsmen/farmers crises in Nigeria?
- What are the relationshipbetween cattle ranching and the promotion of peaceful co-existence among Fulani herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria?
- What is the relationship between the factors militating against effective cattle ranching and Fulani herdsmen crisis?
1.4. Objectives of the Study
- To examine the role of cattle ranching in combating the herdsmen/farmers crises in Nigeria
- To examine the effect of cattle ranching and the promotion of peaceful co-existence among Fulani herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria
- To examine factors militating against effective cattle ranching and Fulani herdsmen crisis
1.5. Statement of the hypothesis
- There is no significant effect of the role of cattle ranching in combating the herdsmen/farmers crises in Nigeria
- There is no significant effect of cattle ranching and the promotion of peaceful co-existence among Fulani herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria
- To examine factors militating against effective cattle ranching and Fulani herdsmen crisis
1.6. Significance of the study
It is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of great importance to the house committee on agriculture and federal ministry of agriculture as the study seek to enumerate the numerous benefit of cattle ranching over open grazing as this will help in policy formation, the study will also be of importance to the security operative as the findings of the study will help them strategize to curb the menace of herdsmen farmers conflict in Benue state, the study will also be useful to researchers who intend to embark on a study in a similar topic as the study will serve as a reference point to further studies. Finally, the study will be of great importance to reporters, academia’s, students, teachers and the general public as the study will add to the pool of existing literature and also contribute to bank of knowledge in the subject matter.
1.7. Limitation of study
a) Availability of Research Material: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study
b) Time: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
c) Finance: the finance budgeted for the study was a major constraint to the scope of the study, as the researcher has limited resources at his disposal to combine both research work and other academic engagement.
1.8 Scope of the study
The scope of the study covers cattle ranching as a panacea to herdsmen crisis in Benue state, in the cause of the study, there are some factors which limited the scope of the study;
1.9 Operational Definition of terms
Cattle: with regards to the context of this study, cattle colloquially cows are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates.
Herdsmen: with regards to the context of this study, a man who takes care of a large group of animals of the same type.
Ranch: with regards to the context of this study, A ranch is an area of land, including various structures, given primarily to the practice of ranching, the practice of raising grazing livestock such as cattle or sheep for meat or wool.
Crisis: with regards to the context of this study, a crisis is any event that is going to lead to an unstable and dangerous situation affecting an individual, group, community, or whole society