BY NiYI JACOBS
While Nigerian government worry over the issue of creating grazing routes for
dangerously armed mobile cattle herders, other countries of the world continue to
rake in billions of dollars as revenue from cattle ranching. This is because of
the many job opportunities which modernised and systemized cattle ranching
creates. Previously, Nigeria used to have grazing reserve areas, especially in the
Northern part of the country. But as the appetite for oil and crude business(legal
and illegal) took centre-stage, agriculture was abandoned, along with it livestock
production. Most of the grazing reserves were even converted to other public uses.
Thus the cattle herders lost control of their formerly organised colonies where
they breed and their cattle with primitive methods.
In addition to their woes was the fact that former grazing area from where they
were driven out by local authorities in the 50s and 60s were not replenished with
new grasland.Thus gradually, there was a return to the erstwhile primitive
normadic-style catlle rearing–moving from place to place. This has created its
many problems and is still creating-:burnt-out unreplenished acreages, which later
turned into mere dry sand lands, expanding the frontiers of the Sahara deserts.
However as researches have shown, the interest in cattle breeding rekindled more
vigorously around 1978 when the retirng Generals from Nigeria’s military
establishment turned into agriculture as an after-service vocation. Most like the
Present Head of state, Muhammadu Buhari, late Shehu Yar Adua, former Customs
helmsman, Alhaji Abubakar, and former Minitary Generals Olusegun Obasanjo,
Abdusalami Abubakar to mention a few gave agriculture some elitist touch,
especially in the area of animal meat production via cattle,and chicken farming.
Yet, scientific ranching in the modern sense did not catch their fancy, chiefly
because they were high profile personalities and could afford to amass sufficient
acres of land for their agric ventures. Thus, the first crop of agriculture
enterpreneurs who would have popularised cattle ranching did not do do so. If at
all there was any semblance of organised cattle breeding in their farms, it may
not be in the class of modern day ranching as practised in some other parts of the
world where animal production has been the major source of those countries’
revenue. These revenue come in the form of sundry classes of taxes, effedctive
legislations and regulations of the protein production industry and the
development of related value-chains.
In USA for instance,beef production represents the largest single segment of
American agriculture. In fact, US Department of Agriculture says more farms are
classified as beef cattle operations (35%) than any other type.
Raising cattle involves numerous farms and operations, each serving a unique role
in the process. At each stage, America’s farmers and ranchers strive to provide
safe, high-quality beef for consumers while following best practices for raising
cattle humanely.Cow-Calf Operation:-Beef production begins with ranchers who
maintain a breeding herd of cows that nurture calves every year. When a calf is
born, it weighs 60 to 100 pounds. Over the next few months, each calf will live
off its motherâ€™s milk and graze grass in pasture.
Weaning:Beef calves are weaned at six to 10 months of age when they weigh between
450 and 700 pounds. These calves are now grass-fed in pasture.Stockers and
Backgrounders-:After weaning, cattle continue to grow and thrive by grazing during
the stocker and backgrounder phase.Livestock Auction Markets:-After weaning and/or
during the stocker and backgrounder phase, cows are sold at livestock auction
markets. About 1/3 of cows stay on the farm for breeding purposes.
Feedyard:-The next step in beef production is when mature calves are moved to
feedyards (also called feedlots). Here, they typically spend four to six months,
during which time they have constant access to water, room to move around, and are
free to graze at feed bunks containing a carefully balanced diet. Veterinarians,
nutritionists and cattlemen work together to look after each animal.Packing
Plant-: Once cattle reach market weight (typically 1,200 to 1,400 pounds and 18 to
22 months of age), they are sent to a processing facility. USDA inspectors are
stationed in all federally inspected packing plants and oversee the implementation
of safety, animal welfare, and quality standards from the time animals enter the
plant until the final beef products are shipped to grocery stores and restaurants
Food Service and Retail-:The final step in beef production is when beef is shipped
and sold in the United States and abroad. In the retail and food service channels,
operators take steps to provide consumers with the most safe, wholesome and
nutritious products possible. For delicious recipes for beef, including tips on
cooking steak and making the perfect hamburger, visit BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.
Proper animal care is the responsibility of everyone in the beef production chain.
Beef ranchers recognize that ensuring animal well-being is the right thing to do
and critical to their operationâ€™s success. For more information, visit the Beef
Quality Assurance website.
GLOBAL MARKET SIZE:
The global beef market size was estimated at USD 300.6 billion in 2017 and is
projected to exhibit a CAGR of 3.1% between 2017 and 2025. Rise in population and
consumer disposable income, along with beef emerging as a key source of protein,
are major factors driving the market.
The global processed meat market size was USD 519.41 billion in 2019 and is
projected to reach USD 862.97 billion by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 6.24% during
the forecast period (2020-2027). The market is fueled by the increasing
consumption of various packaged food products and beverages.
About 60 percent of the ruminant livestock population is found in the country’s
semi-arid zone and mostly managed by pastoralists. Domestic production of
livestock products is far below the national demand, resulting in large imports of
livestock and livestock products.
Although sometimes challenged, cattle farming and ranching plays an important role
in preserving biodiversity and the habitats of local wildlife, while also
supporting healthy soil. Just as the bison kept grasslands healthy and viable for
centuries, cattle grazing has the same effect.
According to Dr. Christian Artuso of Bird Studies Canada, grassland bird species —
such as the Burrowing Owl, Baird’s Sparrow and Chestnut-Collared Longspur —
require a variety of grazed grasslands to survive in the wild. So grazing cattle
helps to maintain the habitat of species at risk.
Grazing rather than cultivating crops is less disruptive to the landscape and
helps sustain native grasses and grassland bird populations, which ultimately
benefits the ecosystem. Recognizing the importance of cattle’s contribution to
preserving native prairie and wetlands, environmental groups such as, Bird Studies
Canada and Ducks Unlimited are working to help develop programs like, Graze On, to
encourage and support cattle ranching as initiatives for conservation and
Beyond the prairie landscape, much of the land used to raise cattle is not
suitable for farming crops and vegetables. Therefore, beef farming allows land
that is too rocky, hilly or dry for growing crops to become an important resource
to raise nourishing food. In many rural areas, raising cattle is the most
environmentally beneficial use of the land.
Nigerians have been calling for effective enlightenment of Nigeria;s growing clan
of nomadic herders to embrace the idea of cattle ranching than moving their herds
from place to place at the expnse of the lives and security and the farmlands of
the communities they find grazing lands. They have also been calling for effective
and sustained reclamation of over-grazed acreages especially in the Northern part
of the country. An agric expert, Professor Charles Ndulugwe expressed worry over
the raft of policies the present administration is constantly churning out, saying
it is oxygenating the herdsmen into unruly behaviour wherever they move they
cattle. He said: “the problem is that the government have not adequately
encouraged the nomadic herders or enlighten them on the issue. The world Bank had
several grants to Nigerian authorities for land and livelihood reclamation of the
lake chad basin which is supposed to be the pivot of cattle ranching. But I dont
think anything is being done on the Chad basin reclamation project”
PRIVATE SECTOR INTERVENTION:
One of the first major private sector-led initiative at tackling the problem of
herdsmen and their unrelenting search for grassland is the effort of former
Nigerian Vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Atiku broke the ground in 2016
when he began the construction of a world class anila feed plamnt with some
portuese industry experts.
The factory, Rico Gardo, when operational will produce animal feeds of various
types including for cattle, small ruminants, horse and poultry. Rico Gardo already
produces animal feed in its factory in Numan, Adamawa State.
The feed company to be sited at Idu Industrial District in the Federal Capital
Territory would provide thousands of direct and indirect jobs as well as conserve
scarce foreign exchange for the country by providing high quality made-in-Nigeria
animal feed for the nation’s livestock sector.
Based on the success and impact of the Numan factory, industry analysts and
livestock experts say that the Abuja factory when operational would play a
significant role in providing feed for millions of cattle that presently roam the
country in search of pasture.
Rico Gado Nutrition Nigeria is a private Limited Liability company. The company
was incorporated in 2013 as a joint venture agreement between GeseDerdirabe
Holdings of Yola Adamawa State, Nigeria, owned by businessman and philanthropist,
Atiku Abubakar, a former Nigerian Vice President and Rico GadoNutracao S.A. The
group has many years of experience in livestock feeds production and distribution
throughout Europe and recently Middle East (Egypt and Saudi Arabia).
The factory in Numan is the first of its kind in Northern Nigeria and it was
commissioned in Adamawa State on the 31st of January 2015. Built with state-of-
the-art technology in livestock feeds milling, it has the capacity to produce
50,000 metric tonnes of assorted animal feeds annually and would create a network
of animal feeds supply. At present, the factory addresses the dire need for animal
food supplement in Adamawa State, the entire North East geo-political region of
Nigeria, and beyond.
Abundant animal feed, according to analysts will make possible the plan of the
Federal Government to limit and control the movement of herdsmen and their cattle
through the provision of ranches in selected locations across the country.There is
popular view that the Atiku intiative all considered is capable of making ranching
attractive.There is the view that Government should encourage the Atiku idea and
sell propagate the ranching practice among MACBAN members that pursuing
controversial and combustible policies which in every way can only embolden the
mobile dangerously armed herdsmen.