By Ukpe Philip and Kasarahchi Aniagolu
Nigeria’s farmer- herder crisis is one of the concerns that has marred the benefits of livestock farming and has led to multiple losses to the country’s economy.
This is a factor that propelled Basheer Bala-Wunti to devise a method- “zero grazing,” to help Africa’s biggest economy to harness the gains of livestock farming.
In an emerging and developing country like India, livestock accounts for 4.11 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product; contributes 25.6 per cent to total Agriculture GDP and employs 8.8 per cent of its 1.4 billion population.
But in Nigeria where there are over 20 million cattle, the livestock sub-sector only accounts for N2.1trn or $5bn in 2020 full year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Basheer believes that the subsector can outperform its current limitations.
During a TEDx Talk, Basheer spoke on ‘sustaining the livestock system in Nigeria through revitalization of the business approach.’
He said, “Livestock grazing over time has become an issue in Nigeria which has resulted in security risk, with regards to health standards and agricultural production.
“There is a need for the production of a sustainable livestock environment that will benefit herders, farmers, businesses and therefore consumers. Solving the grazing crisis requires the adaptation of several grazing methods in conjunction to open grazing. First is the reallocation of vast open lands for the security purposes necessary for this to work.
“The next grazing method I’m proposing is the zero grazing which involves the use of quality feed formulations to provide for the nutritional needs of livestock, less spaces if required here, and the rate at which the livestock natures increase.
“These methods, I believe, will play a huge part in bringing an end to the herds band crisis that has plagued the country. I have covered a little about production, now moving on to sales specifically for livestock used for meat all around the country we sell meat to consumers. This is not the case when they are not the ones buying but consumers.”
Nigeria’s over 200 million population is expected to grow to 400 million by 2050 according to the United Nations Population Fund.
Basheer argued that it would be unsustainable in the long run to practice open grazing for the over 20 million cattle spread throughout the country due to rapid population growth.
He added, “As I mentioned earlier, loss of routes is the major factor as to why open grazing has become an issue in the country. These lands will be restricted thereby allowing herders to go far and wide without worry and within their limitations.
“The herders can pay rent, tax, in a beneficial manner to both parties, once this has been implemented loss of pastures will now become the major issues. This can be through adaptation of these grazing methods, with grazing carried out in plants sequences or street grazing where removable electric fences are neutralized to allow enough forage over a short period of time.”
Another area Basheer is proposing reform is the issue of scale used by herders and others in the market.
“The need for standardization of scales in the market presents a lot of potential and this is why the industry needs standardized scale usage.
“A few techniques used in measuring the weight of livestock include the chafers formula and the rondo method. This does not require scale which I realize may be a little expensive to implement without government supervision.
“Rondo method, for example, is a tape used in measuring the weight of livestock. It is based on the measurement of livestock from the heart, which is reported to be highly correlated with the body weight of livestock,” he said.
Basheer believes that the method is important because “these measures are crucial for herders because it defines the amount of food rations that should be supplied to an animal to avoid underfeeding or overfeeding.
“The medication dosage, the approximate market value of the live animal before sale, and the animal’s whining period.
“Furthermore, reliable information is the foundation of sound management and should be the basis upon which government policies on regulating livestock industry are formulated and development priorities are established.”
He opined that the measurement techniques should be used to determine the state at which livestock are bought and sold in the market.
“The butcher knows the amount which he will pay for the animal and the herder knows what to receive for their cattle. The herder breeds and nurtures the cattle to a specified rate class providing the necessary nutrition and ensuring they get value for their money and so are the butchers and overall the final consumers.
“The price is necessary because neither the buyer or seller can accurately estimate the weight of a cattle with consistency. To judge the fairness for price, the industry will need to develop a comprehensive system which determines the price of livestock based on market conditions.
“Livestock in market outlets were traditionally bought and sold as the buyer and seller negotiated price as the weight of the animal was an unknown factor that each estimated before negotiating the price.”
According to him, the ease and convenience of using the price scale would attract potential buyers, avoiding the risk of price inflation.
Also, Basheer believes it would inject confidence in the estimated pay weight.
He added, “And no standardized livestock classification system related to yield or consumer acceptance. This is also important for both livestock officials and farmers to acquire training in basic business management practices to motivate the constitution of the economic implications of all their farming and animal husbandry methods.”
Source: The Whistler.