FCT farmers bicker over proposed establishment of cattle colonies, ranches

As discussions on the proposed federal government cattle colonies continue to elicit reactions, Blueprint seeks the opinion of FCT farmers in the rural community, PAUL OKAH reports.

Mrs. Aminu Mustapha, farmer in Nyanya
It’s a welcome development. This issue of Fulani herdsmen has been a troubling one in the history of Nigeria. The herdsmen have been killing people in any state they graze. The attacks on Guma and Logo LGAs in Benue State early last month, which left more than 73 people dead, is still fresh on ourmemories; just as the attacks in Enugu, Taraba and other parts of the country by the same set of people cannot be forgotten. Therefore, the decision of the government to establish cattle colonies and ranches is a welcome development. The cattle colonies and ranches are sure ways of curtailing the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers since they will be given a portion of land to graze on. However, I wonder why it has taken the government this long to realize they needed to do the needful.

Malam Isah Danladi, farmer in Kugbo
We have no land to spare for cattle colonies. The federal government is just looking for trouble,trust me. How can you say that you want to start a cattle colony in Nigeria? With whose land? From what I hear on the radio, such a venture will need large parcels of land and that’s not possible at all. Here in Kugbo, the land to farm on is very few. I own the biggest farm here in Kugbo, where I cultivate different types of crops, but my farm has been targeted by these herdsmen as a grazing land. I now have to settle in the farm with my family in order to ward the herdsmen off. Let them go elsewhere. If the government wants to set up cattle colonies, it must not be here in Kugbo. There are no lands here. In fact, people sometimes even cultivate crops beside their houses. So when the land is not enough to farm, where then would the government get the land to give to cattle herdsmen? It will be a serious walaha.

Aisha Usman, farmer in Kugbo
Cattle colonies are better than ranches. To me,the cattle colonies is better than ranches. From what I hear, the colony will be a kind of settlement where different herdsmen will gather and feed their cattles. I watched the Minister of Agriculture trying to explain the difference between cattle colonies and ranches sometime last month and I think it’s the best option to put an end to these herdsmen attacks. However, the problem is the unavailability of lands because I don’t think anyone will agree to surrender his or land to be used for that.

Fatima Abdullahi, farmer in Nyanya
It is going to cause problem for the farmers. What you should understand is that Fulani herdsmen and farmers don’t like themselves, so it is not going to be possible. The farmers will not willingly surrender their lands to be used for a cattle colony. Even if the government succeed in creating the colonies, the herdsmen will never be satisfied. They are used to trekking from one community to another with their cow, so the colony will not be suitable to them because they are not used to staying in one place. It is just a matter of time before they will abandon the colony to start wandering again in search of green grasses elsewhere for their cow.

Juliet Igwe, farmer in Karu.
Who owns the land and the economic trees therein?
To my understanding, a cattle colony will be the creation of ranches where all the herdsmen will gather to feed their cows. However, there is a question of who will be the owners of the land. Will the parcels of land belong to the government, community or the individual owners? You see, this question is pertinent because you don’t joke with land in Africa. Where I come from, land cases take human life if one is not careful. So it is a matter that must be specified and clarified. Government should answer the question: will the land belong to the community or to the Fulani herdsmen? If the latter is the case, then the government is just going to throw the country into confusion because people will regard it as a state creation and not even as a cattle colony.

Emeka Okorie,a farmer in Karu.
Herdsmen should be educated first before the establishment of the cattle colonies or ranches. I will advise that the government should gather all the herdsmen together and enlighten them on what’s expected of them in the cattle colonies, that’s even if it’s going to be possible because many communities will resist their land being taken from them or Fulani herdsmen coming to settle with them. They should not overstep their bounds by leaving the supposed colony to go in search of food in people’s farm so that there will be no more trouble between them and farmers.

Hon. Ogbonnia Nwachi, farmer,
political scientist and public commentator.
Government should go ahead! As a local farmer, I support the establishment of cattle colonies and ranching if it will nip in the bud, the pervasive bloody clashes between local farmers and herdsmen, and further safeguard our crops from being vandalized by cattle. I have read and heard lots of arguments against the establishment ofcattle colonies and ranching, particularly from Southerners. Be thatas it may, philosophy teaches us that when we are faced with two unavoidable evils, the best option is to choose the lesser evil. Therefore, no matter the type of danger which the people against the move feel the establishment of these cattle colonies poses, it is still the lesser evil compared to when herdsmen and their cattle are let loose as we see today.

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