‘Give us grazing reserves’ — Miyetti Allah tells govs after Tinubu announced livestock ministry

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Herdsmen in the country, on the platform of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), have asked governors to “settle pastoralists” with grazing reserves designated for herders in the 1960s.

MACBAN president, Baba Othman-Ngelzarma, made the demand while speaking with ChannelsTV on Wednesday, July 10.

“I believe that the preservation and the protection of grazing reserves, especially those in the 19 northern states would address the intractable and internecine challenge of farmer-herder crisis,” he announced.

Othman-Ngelzarma comments came barely 24hours after President Bola Tinubu announced the creation of a new ministry for livestock development.

The pastoralist explained that the livestock sector could turn around the economy of Nigeria if well-tapped.

He said the end value chain benefits of the cows raised in the northern region are enjoyed by the southern part of the country.

The MACBAN president said herders are not interested in land grabbing but settlements.

“Talking about land grabbing, even in the northern part of the country where the pastoralists belong, they don’t have lands. They don’t care about land; they stay in the forests (and) when development reaches them, they move further into the forests,” he said.

Asked whether the creation of the new ministry would stop herders from open grazing, Othman-Ngelzarma said, “If the right people are put to manage the activities of that ministry. If good representatives, professionals are put there.”

“We are never against settlement; we are for settlement but what model of settlement? We just have to evolve a model of settlement to stop the roaming because it is not going to be sustained. The population is growing and it will continue to grow against a land that doesn’t increase. So, this calls for an effective planning of the land.”

Asked further whether state governors would have to give the herders land for settlement or ranching, the MACBAN leader said, “Do they need the state governments to give them (herders) lands? We have areas that are dedicated as grazing reserves.

“We have about 415 of them all located in the northern part of the country covering about six million hectares of land. There are some encroachments on them but if you minus the encroachments, you will still have about five million hectares of land that are dedicated for grazing, have laws for them for grazing, the lands are there.

“Do we need anybody’s land? The reason why we are calling for the protection and preservation of those lands is that if we are going to settle the pastoralists, they need lands to be settled.

“Since there are dedicated areas that are designated for settlement for grazing, those areas can be used to settle the pastoralists but there has to be a model of settlement because this roaming while looking for pastures is not going to be sustained even in the northern part of the country because of the increase of the population, because of challenges of climate change and what have you. So, there has to be effective planning for the two professions – farming and herding – to co-exist peacefully.”

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