Saturday, January 20, 2018 8:43 pm
By Ademola Adegbamigbe
As the Federal Government said that work would commence next week on cattle colonies in states that have indicated interest to establish them, ecperts advise that efforts must be made not to let them suffer the fate of past efforts. This is because ranches or colonies are not new to Nigeria: Mokwa in Niger State, Akunu in Ondo State, Obudu in Cross River, Erifun in Ado Ekiti, Oke Ako in Ekiti and others. The only trouble is that many are no longer functioning.
Mokwa Cattle Ranch
Established in 1964 under a bilateral agreement between the German and Nigerian government (Northern People’s Congress government of Sir Ahmadu Bello), Mokwa Cattle Ranch (MCR) in Niger State was specifically meant for fattening purposes. It had full compliments of infrastructures, facilities and machineries at European Union standards and handed over to Nigeria in 1974. According to Okaiyeto, P.O. Abubakar in an essay, Post Mortem Analyses of Mokwa Cattle Ranch, Niger State, it was established to make full use of the molasses produced at the nearby Sugar Company at Jebba. Its total land area is 6,885 out of which 2,780 hectares have been prepared for grazing and cropping and 4,108 hectare remains as rangeland. With a capacity of 10,000, by 1973 its herd had attained 3,000 cattle. MCR, according to him, carried out investigations in pasture establishments and its Green Panic grass of 200 hectares could be harvested six times in the rainy period and fed 3,000 cattle in 1973.
He added: “Its feeding regimen for rainy seasons with natural pasture gave 0.300 and Green Panic 0.500 kilograms per day weight gain. Gross margin was N28.60 per animal per day. MCR has been facing systemic decadence and in 2004, it was closed again. The latest consortium that took over has stopped operations. Failures of MCR are attributed to: rising obsolescence, negative impacts of macro-economic instruments such as foreign exchange rates (limiting capacities to import spare-parts), inflationary pressures (costs of direct and indirect inputs), interest rates (costs of funds) and poor management capacities and its deliverance by Nigerians.”
Obudu Cattle Ranch
Obudu Mountain Resort (formerly known as the Obudu Cattle Ranch) is a ranch and resort on the Obudu Plateau in Cross River State, Nigeria. Situated on the Obudu Plateau, close to the Cameroon border in the northeastern part of Cross River State, it is approximately 110 kilometres east of of Ogoja and 65 kilometres from the town of Obudu in Obanliku Local Government Area of Cross River State. As Wikipedia puts it, It was developed in 1951 by M. McCaughley, a Scot who first explored the mountain ranges in 1949. He camped on the mountaintop of the Oshie Ridge on the Sankwala Mountains for a month before returning with Mr. Hugh Jones, a fellow rancher in 1951. Together with Dr Crawfeild, they developed the Obudu Cattle Ranch. Although the ranch has been through troubles since, it has been rehabilitated to its former glory, a process started by the government of Donald Duke of Cross River State. In 2005, he introduced a cable car climbing 870 metres (2,850 ft) from the base to the top of the plateau which “gives visitors a scenic view while bypassing the extremely winding road to the top.”
There are Igarra Cattle Ranch (Edo State), Ezillo-Nkalagu State Farm (Anambra State), Raav- Livestock Investigation and Breeding Centre (Benue State), Oke-Ako Cattle Ranch (Ondo Stale), Akunu Cattle ranch, Ondo State and Erifun cattle rach, established by the Obafemi Awolowo government of Western region. The last one has now given way to other projects.
On the new cattle colonies, Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, revealed this on Friday when he visited the Agriculture and Veterinary Complex of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He added that the National Economic Council on Thursday set up a 10-member committee comprising the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, as Chairman and nine governors to facilitate the commencement of the cattle colonies in interested states.
“We are happy that we are making progress in agriculture now.
“One of the most topical issues we have today is that of farmers and herdsmen clashes.
“If we do not deal with it quickly, we run the risk of damaging the harmony and the co-existence of Nigeria as a country. The killings are getting too many.
“In our attempt to solve the problem, we have proffered certain solutions but perhaps we were not sensitive enough to Nigeria’s fragile sensitivities and suspicions.
“When we spoke of colonies, we were immediately greeted with reactions that this was an attempt to cease Nigeria’s land and give to the Fulanis to colonise.
“The intention is not for Fulanis or anyone to colonise any territory. It is to provide a haven for cattle to graze in peace under controlled environments to prevent the conflicts between farmers and herdsmen.
“Only yesterday, a committee was set up by the Vice President with members, most of them, state governors discussing this matter and resolving that states that are interested will begin work on this matter as soon as next week.’’
He went further that the Federal Government “would engage the services of the National Animal Production Research Institute (NAPRI) to assist in the production of fodder for cattle.”
Ogbeh described open grazing as a `torture’ to cattle which usually do not enjoy long distance walks.
“It doesn’t allow us to harvest milk; the cows are not well fed. What is going on is almost torture to animals.
“If we can create a new environment for cattle, give them what they need, protect them from rustlers, the herdsmen will quickly discover that they are making far more money than what they are doing now.’’