Retired Professor Olusegun Osinowo who walks the talk has offered practicable steps to end the incessant farmer-herder clashes across the country. Professor Osinowo who retired few years ago as Professor of Animal Physiology at Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta has since been actively involved in ranching Muturu breed of cattle at his base in Ogun State. The erudite Professor addressed the participants of the 1st Ogun ASAN week which held from 22nd to 25th July 2019 at Cultural Center , Kuto, Abeokuta. He summarily concluded that ranching is the only feasible solution to the incessant farmer-herder clashes which has left the entire country almost in a comatose situation. He however cautioned that ranching as a solution should not be seen as an immediate antidote but rather one that involves steps which require commitment and sustenance. He was optimistic that the farmer-herder conflict could actually be turned to a beneficial cooperation.
While analyzing the farmer-herder conflict, Prof. Osinowo underpinned the remote cause of the conflict to competition for resources (land, water and grazing rights) among farmers, herders, developers and the state (for infrastructural development). The conflict is further aggravated by ethno-religious sentiment, population increase, urbanization, climate change and political crisis in sub sahara and sahelian Africa. According to the Professor, the consequences of open grazing (nomadism) are too weighty and include desertification, deforestation and land degradation.
The Professor listed past efforts of the government at all levels to address the crisis, which he said were appropriate but not sustained by successive governments. These include establishment of communal grazing land, Mixed farming policy, establishment of grassland research station at Shika, Zaria, settlement policies, establishment of NVRI & NAPRI, cattle routes, grazing reserves , nomadic education and establishment of VCN and NIAS. There have also been legislative approaches to solve the crisis such as anti-open grazing law, southwest legal precedence , laws of Northern Nigeria , cattle routes and grazing reserves law, 1965, and the national grazing reserve establishment bill, 2016.
According to Professor Osinowo, ranching is not a new phenomenon in Nigeria. There have been many government and private ranches in the past and even in recent times. However he said it would take a generation and massive resources to resettle all nomadic herders in ranches.
“To develop ranches for all nomadic Nigerian cattle requires at least 10 million hectares of land. Who does the acquisition and where?, who pays for the land?, who then pays for the ranch infrastructure?, and how long will this take?” said Professor Osinowo.
“As a lasting solution to the farmer-herder clashes, there is need for deepening and streamlining of the cattle value chain. These include not only establishment of cattle ranches but also developing the input supply (hay, silage, fattening ration, etc.), customized cattle transportation (road and rail), feedlots, modern abbatoirs, processed beef, export and research. Certainly these require concerted efforts from all stakeholders.”
Professor Osinowo is a renowed professor of animal physiology. He worked with the National Animal Production Research Institute (NAPRI), Shika, Zaria, from 1976 to 1994, before moving to the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta where he retired in 2014. He has ventured into cattle ranching since retirement.
Among the participants of the first Ogun ASAN week were Profesor I.F. Adu, President of NIAS, Senator Gbenga Kaka, former Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Mrs. Ogunleye, Permanent Secretary, Ogun state Ministry of Agriculture and Mrs. Mope Omotosho, former President of ASAN who gave the Keynote Address.