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Picture News:Gabriel Suswam Advocates Ranching as a Solution to Farmers/Herdsmen Clash

Immediate Past Governor of Benue State Rt. Hon. Gabriel Suswam has described ranching as the best form of breeding cattles for better yeild in dairy products and beef. He made this adress at the University of Mkar Student Executive Council Public Lecture / fund Raising titled Cattle Colony versus Ranching: Implications for Agricultural Development In Nigeria which held yesterday at the University Auditorium.

Represented by the former speaker Benue State House of Assembly and member representing Logo State Constituency Hon Kester Terna Kenge, Suswam made it clear to all that Benue was an agrarian State and thus the call for Colonies was alien to the people of the state and Africa as a whole. Read the address delivered below.




I am deeply honoured and at the same time challenged to be called upon to address such an eminent audience on a subject matter which is centrally topical in the present socio-economic and security imperative of our dear Benue State and indeed Nigeria at large. As one who governed over the affairs of the state not quite long ago, I may be deemed suitably qualified to do justice to this topic, yet, before proceeding, I must state that the current realities of, particularly, the security situation in Benue State, place me on the learning side, same as you who are in audience.

To that extent my views as contained in this address are neither final nor authoritative, but are only suggestive in an exploratory sense, being they my thoughts as a citizen who is also being taken aback daily, like many others, by the rapidly capitulating and ineffectual institutional frameworks, especially those of security, in the face of demands and challenges for protection of the lives and properties of citizens from groups of outlaws who are roaming the country and wrecking havoc at will and largely unchallenged, pursuing unstated but highly invidious agenda which pose as direct and potent a threat to national security as never before witnessed in the history of our dear country, since after the civil war.

I therefore, urge us all to treat this as a discussion more than an address, and take it as an added perspective to the growing debate on how best to improve our national security gamut for the necessary preservation of our national identity, progress and development in an increasingly competitive global setting.

In seeking to proffer my token of views on the implications of both the practices of Cattle Colony and Ranching on agricultural development in Nigeria, I have elected within this context to depict basically what each separate practice entails;

What Is Cattle Colony?

Per: Luke Onyekakeyah (The Guardian- 16 January 2018)

According to Wikipedia, “Cattle Colony is one of the neighbourhoods of Bin Qasim Town in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan. This neighbourhood of Karachi is the centre of cattle and meat trade in Karachi. The cattle colony is the dairy products shopping and supply centre of Karachi. There are also many abattoirs and meat warehouses located in the cattle colony.”

It is very clear from the foregoing that cattle colony is entirely a Pakistani idea for its local cattle and beef market economy.

The cattle colony is one and exists only in the neighbourhood of Bin Qasim Town in Karachi. It is not in any other place in the entire Pakistan or elsewhere in the world. No other country in Africa, Asia, Europe, Americas or Australia has cattle colony. Thus, there is only one cattle colony in the world.

And as has been established, it is not a method for grazing cattle but a centre for cattle and beef product sales. It is like a shopping complex where cattle and meat trade are carried out. The colony has nothing to do with rearing/grazing cattle and other livestock. The string of abattoirs and warehouses that are established in Pakistan’s cattle colony show that it is entirely a market for beef cattle.

As has also been established, there is only one cattle colony in the whole world found in Pakistan in Bin Qasim town in Karachi. What this means is thst the Pakistanis who introduced the concept of Cattle Colony in their cattle economy established just one which has turned out to be the only one in existence in the whole world. This single colony is therefore, enough to cater to the need for its establishment, which is to cater to the seller/buyer needs of the beef products consumers in Pakistan.

It must also be noted that Pakistan has a much larger cattle population than Nigeria. The country is closely allied to India in terms of Cattle production, and India ranks 5th on the global cattle producers scale. Nigeria is not even ranked among the top cattle producer countries in Africa, and globally Nigeria has no name as a cattle producer.

Available information shows that the United States is the leading world beef producer (20%), followed by Brazil (15.4%), European Union (13%), China (11.4%) and India (7%). Out of the 53 largest beef producers ranked in the world, only two African countries are included namely South Africa at 13th position producing 1.44% of world beef and Gabon at the 53rd position with negligible per cent.

Nigeria, therefore, does not need Cattle Colony, either as a solution to the worsening herdsmen onslaught on farmer populations for grass and water, or as an agricultural development policy.

The proposal by the Minister of Agriculture, our own Benue son, Chief Audu Ogbeh, for the establishment of Cattle colonies in all states of Nigeria was evidently a misconception of the concept, as it was later shelved following nation wide opposition to it.

Nigeria’s problem with cattle borders on grazing and watering of the animals, and the concept of Cattle Colony does not in any way hold potential for addressing this problem. It is not therefore, in a serious sense a panacea to the agricultural development needs of the country at this stage.

What is a Ranch?

According to Wikipedia; a ranch could be described as an area of land comprising various structures, designed and given primarily to the purpose of raising and grazing livestock such as cattle or sheep for meat or wool. The word most often applies to livestock-raising operations in Mexico, the Western United States and Canada, though there are ranches in other parts of the world too. People who own or operate a ranch are called ranchers, cattlemen, or stockgrowers. Ranching is also a method used to raise less common livestock such as elk, American bison or even ostrich, emu, and  alpaca.

Ranches generally consist of large areas, but may be of nearly any size. In the western United States, many ranches are a combination of privately owned land supplemented by grazing leases on land under the control of the federal Bureau of Land Managementorthe United States Forest Service. If the ranch includes arable or irrigated land, the ranch may also engage in a limited amount of farming, raising crops for feeding the animals, such as hay and feed grains.

The person who owns and manages the operation of a ranch is usually called a rancher, but the terms cattleman,  stockgrower, or stockman are also sometimes used. If this individual in charge of overall management is an employee of the actual owner, the term foreman or ranch foreman is used. A rancher who primarily raises young stock sometimes is called a cow-calf operator or a cow-calf man. This person is usually the owner, though in some cases, particularly where there is absentee ownership, it is the ranch manager or ranch foreman.

The people who are employees of the rancher and involved in handling livestock are called a number of terms, including cowhand, ranch hand, and cowboy.

Origins of Ranching:

Ranching and the cowboy tradition originated in Spain, out of the necessity to handle large herds of grazing animals on dry land from horseback. During the Reconquista, members of the Spanish nobilityand various military orders received large land grants that the Kingdom of Castile had conquered from the Moors. These landowners were to defend the lands put into their control and could use them for earning revenue. In the process it was found that open-range breeding of sheep and cattle (under the Mestasystem) was the most suitable use for vast tracts, particularly in the parts of Spain now known as Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura and Andalusia.

Ranching In the United States of America;

As settlers from the United States moved west, they brought cattle breeds developed on the east coast and in Europe along with them, and adapted their management to the drier lands of the west by borrowing key elements of the Spanish vaqueroculture.

However, there were cattle on the eastern seaboard. Deep Hollow Ranch, 110 miles (180 km) east of New York City in Montauk, New York, claims to be the first ranch in the United States, having continuously operated since 1658. The ranch makes the somewhat debatable claim of having the oldest cattle operation in what today is the United States, though cattle had been run in the area since European settlers purchased land from the Indian people of the area in 1643. Although there were substantial numbers of cattle on Long Island, as well as the need to herd them to and from common grazing lands on a seasonal basis, the cattle handlers actually lived in houses built on the pasture grounds, and cattle were ear-marked for identification, rather than being branded. The only actual “cattle drives” held on Long Island consisted of one drive in 1776, when the island’s cattle were moved in a failed attempt to prevent them from being captured by the British during the American Revolution, and three or four drives in the late 1930s, when area cattle were herded down Montauk Highway to pasture ground near Deep Hollow Ranch.

Ranching In Hawai:

Ranching in Hawaii developed independently of that in the continental United States. In colonial times, Capt. George Vancouver gave several head of cattle to the Hawaiian king, Pai`ea Kamehameha, monarch of the Hawaiian Kingdom, and by the early 19th century, they had multiplied considerably, to the point that they were wreaking havoc throughout the countryside. About 1812, John Parker, a sailor who had jumped ship and settled in the islands, received permission from Kamehameha to capture the wild cattle and develop a beef industry.

The Hawaiian style of ranching originally included capturing wild cattle by driving them into pits dug in the forest floor. Once tamed somewhat by hunger and thirst, they were hauled out up a steep ramp, and tied by their horns to the horns of a tame, older steer (or ox) and taken to fenced-in areas. The industry grew slowly under the reign of Kamehameha’s son Liholiho (Kamehameha II). When Liholiho’s son, Kauikeaouli (Kamehameha III), visited California, then still a part of Mexico, he was impressed with the skill of the Mexican vaqueros. In 1832, he invited several to Hawaii to teach the Hawaiian people how to work cattle.

The Hawaiian cowboy came to be called the paniolo, a Hawaiianized pronunciation of español. Even today, the traditional Hawaiian saddle and many other tools of the ranching trade have a distinctly Mexican look, and many Hawaiian ranching families still carry the surnames of vaqueros who made Hawaii their home.

Ranching in South America:

In Argentina, ranches are known as estancias, and in Brazil, they are called fazendas. In much of South America, including Ecuador and Colombia, the term hacienda may be used. Ranchero or Rancho are also generic terms used throughout Latin America.

In the colonial period, from the pampas regions of South America all the way to the Minas Gerais state in Brazil, including the semi-arid pampas of Argentinaand the south of Brazil, were often well-suited to ranching, and a tradition developed that largely paralleled that of Mexico and the United States.

Ranching In Africa:

In South Africa, similar large agricultural holdings are simply known as a farm (occasionally ranch) in South African English or a plaas in Afrikaans.

In all of the African countries which rank as major producers of Cattle ranching is the accepted method of cattle farming. Studies show that Gabon has most of its cattle in ranches. Countries like New Zealand, whose livestock population is more than the human population, have their livestock in ranches. The argument that the Fulani’s traditional nomadic lifestyle has to continue cannot survive the test of time in the 21st Century as humanity passes into post modernisation digital economy.

There has to be a deliberate attempt to get the herdsmen to adopt ranching in this modern era. There are few indigenous cultures around the world that are still stuck in the primitive wandering lifestyle. The Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania that rear livestock in semi nomadic fashion are even being tamed to be sedentary.

The Tanzania and Kenya governments have instituted programmes to encourage the Maasai to abandon their traditional semi-nomadic lifestyle. While it may not be easy to change them, a concerted effort in that direction will definitely bring change. Nigerian authorities should do likewise except there is something else.

Ranching As The Preferred Modern Livestock Rearing Method:

All evolving livestock rearing trends the world over are on the ranching mode which as enumerated in this discussion is more amenable to agricultural practices in the new world order of the 21st century.

In a country like Nigeria where economic modes of the largely rural dwelling populations is agrarian, there could be no rationally conceived form of animal husbandry other than ranching. Ranching despite its numerous variants achieves the singularly common goal of keeping animals being reared off conflict with land under cultivation for other agricultural purposes.

It is time now, more than ever, for the relevant authorities at both the states and federal levels in Nigeria to put in place enabling legislation and muster the sufficiency of political will and sincerity of purpose to separate the land under cultivation for arable agricultural purposes and that for animal husbandry. This is only achievable under the practice of Ranching.

It is my earnest wish that this views of mine may make a token of contribution to the superstructure of ideas needed to build a lasting solution to the conflict between the needs of herdsmen to rear their cattle and the needs of farmers to cultivate the land for their crops, that Nigeria may achieve her manifest potential as an economic gaint standing upon solid feet moulded in agricultural breakthrough.

Then and then alone will the Tiv man and the Fulani man find meaning and fulfilment in their being Nigerian.

Thank you all for your attention.

Rt. Hon. Gabriel Torwua Suswam, PhD, CON,
Governor, Benue State (2007-2015).

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