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Time to embrace modern  ranching

In the past two years, the country has been inundated with gory news of cattle Fulani herdsmen engaging in deadly clashes with their host communities over grazing rights for their livestock. No day passes without such incidence of violence between these nomadic pastoralists and those communities along their grazing routes. Unfortunately, most of the clashes have led to enormous loss of lives and properties, including the sacking of entire communities. Recently, the Agatu community in Benue State turned a war zone after some Fulani herdsmen attacked the natives following alleged theft of livestock. In the end, more than 500 people were killed and injured, while numerous buildings and farmlands were set ablaze.
Before then, there have been reported cases of herdsmen destroying crops, farmlands and other valuable properties following disagreements and allegations of cattle rustling. In all this, the federal authorities have turned a blind eye to the mayhems. We are pained that in this day and age, Nigeria has continued to witness endless orgies of bloodletting brought about by the untoward activities of cattle herdsmen. In recent times, many concerned Nigerians have not only raised alarm at the frequency of these clashes,   they have also called for the outlawing of itinerant animal husbandry all over the country. In its place, they have proffered ranching as a way of bringing modernity into this ancient profession and thereby halt the ceaseless bloodletting associated with itinerant pastoralism.
It is instructive to note that ranching is the practice of raising herds of animals on large tracts of land. Those responsible for herding and maintaining the health of these animals are known as cowboys (Fulani herdsmen). Livestock raised on ranches are an important part of a region’s agriculture, which means that livestock raised this way provide meat not only for human consumption but also materials, such as leather for clothing, furniture, and other industries.
Definitely, the economic benefits of large scale ranching cannot be overemphasised. It is a fact that countries such as United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Australia and South Africa have adopted ranching as a way of not only increasing their livestock population but more so introducing the latest technology in animal husbandry to the benefits of their livestock farmers. In the case of Nigeria, ranching would help put an end to constant clashes between cattle herdsmen and locals, including making the latter live more settled lives in organized communities.
It needs restating that ranching has many benefits which include large scale employment to people, development of  infrastructure in the region where they are situated, including being veritable source of income to farmers who sell the animals and products. We therefore call on the authorities to look in the direction of encouraging animal ranches, especially in traditional areas inhabited by the cattle Fulani. That would in the long run bring modernity into this traditional industry and help check increasing deforestation in the Sahel region and southern parts of Nigeria. We believe the future lies in large-scale ranching and transport in refrigerated railway coaches and trucks from production centres and abattoirs in the North to population centres nationwide.

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