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Open grazing ban: ‘Where do Southern Governors Want Herders To Go?- Inuwa Yahaha; A Rejoinder by Sonny Iroche

Citing the recent ban by southern governors on open grazing in their states, the Governor of Gombe State, Inuwa Yahaya believes the action is fraught with danger in respect of the country’s oneness.

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governor, Muhammed Inuwa Yahaya,

In an interview with the governor, Muhammed Inuwa Yahaya, was quoted to have opined as stated below:
“Gombe State governor, Inuwa Yahaya, is advocating a quick end to the rising insecurity across the country.
He says stakeholders, particularly state governors, are critical to the resolution of the conflicts that are threatening the unity of the country.
Citing the recent ban by southern governors on open grazing in their states, Yahaya believes the action is fraught with danger in respect of the country’s oneness.
Speaking in an interview with Sola Shittu recently in Gombe:
He wonders where the governors want herders to go if they are denied access to grazing fields for their cattle.
He reminds his southern counterparts that there are also southern professionals who “have lived harmoniously with our people and we cannot say no to them.”
“This anarchy that is setting in will remain pervasive until we find a solution to it,” he said, adding: “The task ahead is really a herculean one and each and every one of us has a role to play.”

Speaking in an interview with Sola Shittu recently in Gombe:
He wonders where the governors want herders to go if they are denied access to grazing fields for their cattle.
He reminds his southern counterparts that there are also southern professionals who “have lived harmoniously with our people and we cannot say no to them.”
“This anarchy that is setting in will remain pervasive until we find a solution to it,” he said, adding: “The task ahead is really a herculean one and each and every one of us has a role to play.”

Cattle rearing and animal husbandry are not unique to Nigeria. As a matter of fact, Nigeria, does not feature amongst Africa’s leading cattle rearing and beef producing countries in the continent, not to talk about its relevance in the world beef production. Governor Yahaya, is advised to lead the cattle herders in Nigeria and its immediate neighboring African countries, that are still practicing open grazing to take a cue from the world’s leading cattle and beef production economies of the world.
Governor Yahaya should lead the initiative to create an enabling environment for investments in cattle ranching that would add value to the business such as the production of meat, cheese, steaks and other beef derivatives for both local consumption and the export markets

One therefore wonders why the whole hullabaloo about the continued retention of outdated and archaic cattle grazing practices, which pose so much insecurity and threat to the unity of the country as per the vituperations of such commentators as the Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association and the likes of Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State:
If one is to answer the governor’s question, which he posed to the Southern governors, it is a no brainer to draw his attention to the practices that have been accepted as international best practices of the foremost cattle rearing and beef producing countries in the world. This rejoinder, is not meant to address the hazards and the crises caused by cattle grazing. But more to point the governor and all those investors behind the cattle and beef supply value chain to embrace modern beef production, as practiced by the civilized world and leading cattle rearing economies.

Considering that the cattle herders are primarily in private business; their perceived freedom to think that they are at liberty to infringe on the rights of the farmers, is limited to the rights of the farmers who are equally Nigerians in the food production business.

The positions of Governor Yahaya, the Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders and others who have dug into such uncompromising stand of; it’s either our way or the Highway only exacerbates the Farmers-Herders crisis, which further polarizes the country and the raison d’être of unrest in most parts of the country.

Governor Ganduje of Kano state, who had earlier on condemned the outdated nomadic cattle grazing practice and offered his northern governors colleagues land to site cattle ranching must be commended, for his forthrightness and courage to speak truth to some “untouchable”, and to advocate a much better modern alternative.

Nigeria cannot remain at these levels of lack of progress, embracing modern business practices and continuously wanting to operate outdated practices. The world has left us behind in several fields of human endeavors. As the largest economy in Africa, we must show leadership in many factors of production and human development index.

The following graphs, charts and studies, by various groups are pointers to where the cattle herders ought to seek alternative to their business and an answer to Governor Yahaya and to further elucidate where the big and affluent players in the cattle business are now playing.
We have lost the 20th Century. Must we lose the 21st?

Rank Country Production in 1,000 Metric Tons
1 United State 11,389
2 Brazil 9,284
3 European Union 7,850
4 China 6,900
5 India 4,250
6 Argentina 2,600
7 Australia 2,075
8 Mexico 1,880
9 Pakistan 1,750
10 Turkey 1,587
World 60,486
Source :

A newly published Malabo Montpellier Panel report, Meat, Milk & More: Policy innovations to shepherd inclusive and sustainable livestock systems in Africa, ‘highlights options for sustainably promoting growth in the livestock sector, drawing from what four African countries—Ethiopia, Mali, South Africa, and Uganda—have done successfully in terms of institutional and policy innovation as well as programmatic interventions.
‘By adapting these lessons to countries’ specific contexts and scaling them up across the continent, African governments can meet their national and international commitments to agricultural growth and transformation.’
Iain Wright, deputy director for integrated programs at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), welcomes the report and applauds the Malabo Montpellier Panel for producing a report on livestock in Africa.
The livestock sector accounts for about 40% of agricultural GDP in Africa, ranging from 30 to 80% in individual countries, but rarely gets more than 5 to 10% of agricultural investment and as a consequence is under-performing.

The report highlights the critical role of livestock in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including achieving healthy diets, supporting millions of jobs and driving economic growth as well as the potential to transform women’s lives.
It offers sound, evidence-based recommendations to policymakers that could support the transformation of the sector.
—Iain Wright, deputy director general at ILRI

An overview of livestock in Africa

Livestock numbers and distribution
Africa is a livestock-rich continent representing about one-third of the world’s livestock population . . . .
Across the continent, livestock is considered as one of the most valuable agricultural assets for the rural and urban poor, especially for women and pastoralists . . . .
The African livestock sector contributes between 30 and 80 percent to countries’ agricultural GDP . . . while East Africa’s livestock sector generates more than US$1 billion annually through exports . . . .
Livestock keepers in Africa primarily depend on cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys, camels, and poultry . . . .
In addition, there is a growing trend of pig farming across Africa south of the Sahara . . . .
Poultry farming and consumption, particularly chicken, play a key role in many African countries.

‘As indicated in figure 1, Africa’s total livestock population in 2018 was estimated at 2 billion poultry birds (1.9 billion chickens, 26 million guinea fowl, 27 million turkeys, 22 million ducks, and 11.5 million pigeons), 438 million goats, 384 million sheep, just under 356 million cattle, 40.5 million pigs, almost 31 million camels, and 38 million equines (including 30 million donkeys, 6.5 million horses, and 885,000 mules).

‘Figure 1. 2018 Livestock population in Africa. Source: FAOSTAT 2019.
‘Eastern and western Africa have the largest goat populations, while cattle dominate East Africa’s livestock sector. A recent study found that across the continent, cattle densities are highest in the East African highlands, particularly in Ethiopia, as well as in Nigeria. As figure 2 indicates, eastern Africa had the highest concentration of livestock per agricultural land area in 2017, with 0.37 livestock units per hectare (LSU/ha). In comparison, northern Africa had 0.31 LSU/ha, western Africa 0.28 LSU/ha, and central Africa 0.25 LSU/ha, while in southern Africa, the density was only slightly above 0.10 LSU/ ha. Figure 2 also shows that, with the exception of southern Africa, livestock densities steadily increased in all regions between 1990 and 2017.

‘Figure 2: Livestock per agricultural land area (LSU/ha) for major livestock types in Africa’s sub-regions. Note: Major livestock include cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, and equines. Between 1990 and 2017, livestock densities have substantially increased in all subregions: central Africa (+257 percent), western Africa (+100 percent), northern Africa (+94 percent), and eastern Africa (+54 percent) with the exception of southern Africa (-8 percent). Source: FAOSTAT (2019).’
Important lessons can be learned from the livestock sector policies and strategies in several African countries. . . .
Drawing on the findings of the four case studies presented in this report, the Malabo Montpellier Panel makes seven recommendations for action by governments and the private sector.
From ‘Creating an enabling environment’

1. Overarching policy frameworks: Given the duality of livestock production in many countries, with large market-oriented producers operating alongside small and subsistence producers, and formal markets operating alongside informal markets, an overarching policy framework is needed to create an inclusive, holistic, innovative, productive, and profitable livestock sector, that is also environmentally sustainable and promotes further involvement of women and youth.

2 Regulation: A nimble but clear and health conscious regulatory environment will be critical to ensure that a flourishing livestock sector maintains high safety, quality, and welfare standards, produces nutritious food, preserves environmental sustainability, and protects producers’ and consumers’ health.

3 Private sector–led development: A viable private sector, including farmer and herder organizations, will facilitate increased investments, and drive growth, job creation, and entrepreneurship in the livestock sector.

4 Finance and livestock assets:
Despite its significant contribution to agricultural and national gross domestic product (GDP), the livestock sector in most African countries remains heavily underfunded.

Financing common goods such as animal health, animal improvement, and research creates a strong foundation upon which both market-oriented and subsistence livestock sectors can prosper.

5 Trade: There is great potential to increase the intra-African trade of livestock products and live animals through strong partnerships that improve trade flows across the continent.

6 Data and research: Availability and access to comprehensive and good quality information and data on all aspects of the livestock sector, including breeding, is critical for facts-based policy design.

7 Conflict: Conflicts between pastoralists and crop farmers can be reduced by focusing on a holistic approach to supporting all stakeholders’ livelihoods, including a robust network of support services adapted to the mobile livelihoods of pastoralists. . . .
Sectoral interventions

8 Ruminants: As countries strive to meet the increasing demand for meat, milk and dairy products, productivity needs to be sustainably increased factoring in animal and human health aspects while using new technologies and breeding instead of growing herd sizes. .

9 Poultry: Employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in the poultry sub-sector are particularly attractive for young people and women due to the relatively small capital investment and land ownership needs and should be supported through targeted government programs.

10 Dairy: Africa’s dairy sector offers a multitude of opportunities for employment generation and entrepreneurship along its entire value chain. . . .There is the opportunity for some countries, particularly in East Africa, to specialize in dairy production and to become key trade partners within Africa .

11 Pork: As demand for pork steadily increases across the continent and the focus is on increasing productivity and promoting value addition, interventions targeting the adoption of improved technologies and better management of feed are needed. . . .
From ‘What works at the country level?’

The experiences of four African countries that have been at the forefront of strengthening their livestock sectors through dedicated and effective government action offer a wealth of lessons.
Their successful policies and interventions, if replicated at scale, could enable African countries to make faster progress in the fight against poverty and hunger.

The table below offers a summary of some of the key actions:
‘The government of Ethiopia has carefully and systematically adapted institutions and policies for pastoralist and non-pastoralist producers to ensure that the livestock sector can contribute toward achieving its commitments on poverty alleviation, food security, and improved nutrition. A multi-pronged approach to simultaneously building capacity in animal health, research, and marketing has attracted significant investment both from the private sector and development partners, further ensuring that the sector thrives.
‘Mali stands out for a focus on improving animal health and feed, and promoting an increase in the productivity of local cows through breeding. The government has also invested in infrastructure development and equipment to commercialize the livestock sector and facilitate the export of live animals in the region.
South Africa
‘Success in South Africa’s livestock sector is underpinned by a vibrant private sector and national efforts to include and commercialize production from small and emerging farmers. A relatively well-established animal health system, in conjunction with better marketing and access to finance, enable
farmers to prosper from livestock production.
‘Uganda stands out for its commitment to strengthening its dairy sector through dedicated policies, including the Dairy Master Plan to liberalize the dairy industry and to restructure and privatize the state-owned dairy processing company Dairy Corporation, which have contributed to the transformation of the dairy industry. Uganda’s programmatic interventions are directed toward enhancing the livestock sector with a primary focus on the dairy value chain and maintaining self-sufficiency in milk production.’

By: Sonny Iroche
August 14, 2021