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Herdsmen: Stakeholders wants dialogue on ranches

Some Nigerians have urged the Federal Government to dialogue with governments of states reputed for cattle-rearing to establish ranches in their areas.
They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja that providing ranches would reduce the mayhem associated with activities of herdsmen constantly being recorded across the country.
One of the respondents, Mr Victor Ekpe, said that clashes between farmers and herdsmen in the country, was needless and avoidable if the cattle merchants had build their own ranches.
He said that state governments should support the herdsmen in the establishment of the ranches at convenient spots.
According to Ekpe, any person who is interested in buying the cattle can travel to the ranch to purchase it.
He stressed that in the ranches, government should ensure there were dams so as to restrict the movement of the cattle into unauthorised areas.
He said that until the herdsmen were restricted in their movements with the animals, clashes between them and farmers would continue.
Ekpe called for railways across the country, saying that such transportation system would help in moving cattle to areas they were needed.
He said that former President George Bush of the U.S. had a large ranch where he reared cattle in Houston and that no cattle moved on the street because it wanted to graze.
Another respondent, Mr Ochuele Odey, said that there was need for proper agricultural policy on cattle rearing to avoid clashes.
According to him, as the cattle farming is important to the herdsmen, so the other types of farming are important to the farmers.
“As the herdsmen depend on their cattle for their means of livelihood, the same way farmers depend on crops in their farms for theirs,’’ he said.
Odey said that it was wrong for the herdsmen to take their cattle into farms to feed on crops the farmers were labouring to cultivate.
On her part, Mrs Augustina Ushie, said that solution to the clashes would begin with the government directing owners of the cows to provide grazing lands for them and stop the destruction of farms.
According to her, because there is no provision, either by the herdsmen or government, for grazing, moving the cattle freely into farms to feed them was wrong and should be stopped.
“It is enough to anger a farmer who has toiled over the months to nurture his crops only to have them destroyed by cattle in one full swap,’’ Ushie said.
She recalled that a bill on solution to the problem was sponsored by Sen. Zainab Kure (Niger Central) in the 7th Senate but was rejected.
She urged the National Assembly to promptly revisit the bill to tackle the problem.
According to Ushie, with the level of terror by suspected herdsmen, people no longer feel safe outside their homes.
“I believe that the idea of having grazing reserves in the country at this time is needful; if this is done, it will be in national interest,’’ she said.
It will be recalled that herdsmen were alleged to have carried out the recent killings in Enugu, Benue and Taraba.
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