Settle herders with grazing reserves – Miyetti Allah tells Governors

The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), a key umbrella body for herders in the country, has called on governors to allocate grazing reserves designated for herders since the 1960s.

Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily program on Wednesday, July 10, MACBAN President Baba Othman-Ngelzarma emphasized that preserving and protecting these grazing reserves, especially in the 19 northern states, would help resolve the persistent farmer-herder conflicts.

Othman-Ngelzarma’s remarks came shortly after President Bola Tinubu announced the creation of a new ministry for livestock development. He highlighted the potential of the livestock sector to significantly boost Nigeria’s economy if properly harnessed.

He noted that the economic benefits from cows raised in the northern region are largely enjoyed in the southern part of the country. The MACBAN president clarified that herders are not seeking to grab land but are looking for designated settlements.

He said;

“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.”

When asked if 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.”

The MACBAN chief, who applauded Tinubu for the new ministry, faulted the National Livestock Transformation Plan introduced by then President Muhammadu Buhari, saying whilst over ₦500bn was spent on agriculture, none was budgeted for livestock.

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