In a bid to find a lasting a solution to herdsmen-farmers’ clashes in the South East, the Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC) has passionately appealed to governors in the zone to provide funds for farmers in the zone to indulge in cattle business and other livestock farming.
In a press statement issued by the national president of OYC, Igboayaka O Igboayaka, and made available to our correspondent in Owerri, the group contended that if such assistance was rendered by the governors, it would not only encourage indigenous cattle rearing in the zone but also reduce unemployment.
He also noted that the idea would end the constant herdsmen and farmers’ incidents in the zone.
According to the statement “in view of the raging war in these past years arising from settling of cattle herders in the South East and South-South regions, the Ohanaeze Youth Council, OYC, ably led by Comrade Igboayaka O Igboayaka, has seen reasons to urge governors of the Igbo extraction, to mobilise funds and empower indigenous farmers in the region to embark on a large-scale rearing of cattle and other livestock, using the ranching method for adequate production of milk and meat to meet the agricultural needs of our people.
“To break the ethnic monopoly of the livestock business since it has grown to become a problem for all, our governors must step in swiftly to grant loans to our local farmers who engage in cattle ranching. We must break this monopoly, not only to sanitise and upgrade the livestock business and make it more rewarding, but also to put an end to this imperialist, wanton killings and territorial claims.
The statement further reads: “OYC believes that this system will definitely improve the quality and safety of the beef and diary products suitable for export and our local consumption.
“On that note, the OYC is urging the Igbo governors to establish modern ranches to be operated by indigenes of their respective states and any other Nigerian who decides to key into it by meeting the requirements for enlistment. It will also go a long way in eradicating the dangers of nomadic cattle rearing if the governors would work together to reinvent the defunct Eastern Region’s ranches that were destroyed during the Biafra-Nigeria war.
“It is sad that after the war, the entire southern Nigeria appeared to have given up on agriculture as a business allowing the North to take the initiative. While we were growing up, we learnt of the Obudu Cattle Ranch and other ranches from where local varieties of livestock such as cows, goats and sheep were reared. These varieties which were indigenous to the evergreen vegetation zones were much more nutritious and highly prized than their lean and long-legged Sahelian counterparts. In fact, the northern livestock were generally looked down upon as inferior to the southern breeds.
“For instance, when you hear an Igbo chief hailed “Ogbu efi” the cow so referred to does not refer to the Sahelian, long-legged cows which today trample our farms and gorge on our crops. It refers to the shorter but heavier forest oxen which you do not find on the roadside butcher’s table. It is a delicacy for specialised ceremonies reserved for titled chiefs and those around them. Before the war, people kept those local variety of livestock as subsistent business behind their backyards. It is time we went back to this practice.
“Beyond the subsistence level, state governments in Igbo land can establish ranches and parcel out portions for the youth who are interested in livestock farming to embrace them. These youths should be trained to run these ranches as profitable businesses modelled on best practices around the world. Improved varieties of these livestock should be able to supply meat and dairy products that will make preferred alternatives to the nomadic Fulani cattle.
“Therefore, our governors must help our indigenous farmers by investing in cattle rearing and drive innovation in the agricultural sector as the high demand for beef in our states guarantees good returns on the investment. If this is done and the laws against open-grazing are firmly enforced in Igbo land, there will be no more room for armed pastoral militias and their sponsors seeking to steal other people’s ancestral lands under any guise of cattle colony or Ruga settlement,” the statement said.