Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has said that there is no gazette anywhere in the country that established cattle grazing reserves.
The comment is following the campaign against open grazing in the southern part of the country. The subject rages with legislative provisions being emplaced and advocacy for the establishment of ranching intensifies, ownership structures of cattle ranches have remained unclear.
Although, majority of Nigerians have said cattle ranching is the latest but arguments still rage on as the Federal Government insists on reclaiming grazing routes. The Federal Government has recently said it would reclaim all grazing routes throughout the country and would only concede spaces for already building public infrastructures or institutions.
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Falana further stated that land constitutionally belongs to the people and held in trust by states of the federation.
The issue of open grazing has led many southern governors to ban the practice that has created problems for some of the states.
Reacting to the positions, Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS), Prof. Eustace Iyayi, said the ban on open grazing was a result of the criminality that recently accompanied the cattle grazing system in the country.
He added: “While I believe ranching can be a solution, ranching itself has to be properly planned.
“I do not believe ranching can be successfully operated by the government. So, that leaves it squarely in the hands of individuals or groups of people who want to operate it as an economic venture.”
Nevertheless, he added, the government should have a role to play by providing land either for lease or purchase, and social amenities, especially at the state level, as the land constitutionally belongs to the state.
Another animal scientist at the University of Ibadan, Dr Olufemi Adebiyi also said cattle owners should establish their ranches and feedlots with private resources. He is of the view that as much as most poultry, pig and goat farmers do their businesses without government interventions in land or infrastructure.
“Poultry farmers establish their farms privately. So, cattle breeders and herders should establish their farms too. The public should not bear the burdens of private businesses,” Adebiyi said.
The population of the south-western region has approximately 40 million population and has the tendency to grow to over 60 million in 10 years, thus emphasizing that there is a ready market for beef and dairy products in the region, a good reason for regional ranches.
According to top estimation, the value of cattle consumed in Lagos daily is N1.2 billion. Over 8,000 cattle heads are slaughtered at an average price of N150,000 per cow.