THE recent adoption of ranching by the Northern Governors Forum, which represents a dominant and influential force in governance in the country, has come as an important step towards finding a lasting solution to the herders-farmers conflicts across Nigeria.
FARMERS and herdsmen conflicts remain the most disturbing breach of peace throughout the nation as the nomadic herdsmen ply their trade with reckless abandon, invading farmlands as they openly graze their herds of cattle, attacking and killing whoever would dare challenge their destructive activities.
WITH blood, death and wreckage of crops in unrestricted grazing came the outcry from affected communities across the country. It is expected that this recommendation of ranching as a replacement for open grazing, which initially missed the required support of the Federal Government and some state governors, will now gain enough support to be implemented throughout the country.
LEADING the advocacy for ranching was the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom through a ban on open grazing in the state with a legislation in 2017 which the herders community labelled as unconstitutional and consequently sought ways to reverse it in the law courts. They however failed in their litigations.
THE ban on open grazing of livestock has therefore restored relative peace to Benue communities and helped check frequent invasions of farmlands and attacks on the natives.
HOWEVER, the perception of ranching as an alien and unacceptable culture runs with the herdsmen and needs to be addressed in the proper education of the pastoralists on the merits and universal appeal of ranching, else, the support of the Northern Governors Forum will be of no impact.
THE Federal Government should as a matter of urgency, see the stance of the Forum as seeking a lasting and effective solution to the recurring farmers and herdsmen conflicts in the country and give it the necessary support.
ALSO important is the need for the northern governors to rise beyond rhetorics and implement ranching as a modern approach to animal husbandry through the provision of enabling environment for the pastoralists to transit from open grazing to ranching as a new and more gainful alternative.
RANCHING which is currently being practiced in advanced nations such as Argentina, United States of America, Australia, among others is a profitable and modern enterprise preferable to open grazing.
IT however requires a combination of the required skills and machinery to enable the ranching option succeed.
WE therefore call on government at all levels in the country to collaborate with the private sector to ensure the success of ranching in the country.