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Pastoralism is the most traditional of ruminant livestock production systems in which extensive movement of the animals in search of pastures and water is its salient feature. Whereas the system is adapted to exploit the dry, arid climatic zone, it often overlaps into wetter, agricultural land, occasionally ending up into violent conflicts. Ranching is practically the intensive form of pastoralism but it has a weakness of being seen as antisocial and needing high initial capital. Whatever other truly improved system of exploiting the pastoral agro-ecosystem, it seems it seldom can indict sedentarized tendencies and rarely can it be less intensive than ranching. This study investigate the problems and prospect of cattle ranching in Nigeria.
1.1 Background of the study
Ranching is a very significant change of the pastoralist system strategy. It changes the mobility nature of pastoralism where traditionally there are no limits of grazing of the available pastures, into controlled grazing. It also changes the common property character of the pastoralist land where all land is open for pastures without any individual ownership. Ranching is now the dominant system of ruminant livestock production in North America, Australia and parts of South America. This is because the advantages of cattle ranching and it importance cannot be over emphasize Some European systems could also be described as ranching, though enclosures are often small and animals are frequently given supplements in the field (Ibid). In countries like United States, (Ibid), communal grazing pastoralism was prevalent in the 19th century, but now the grazing systems are fully enclosed (Ibid) From 1990 to 2003, the cattle herd in the Northern part of the country grew by 140% from 26.6 million to 64 million heads. Increasing demand and the sector’s advantages in the region suggest that ranching will continue to grow in the region. Nevertheless, the growth of extensive ranching in the region is worrying especially because of increased deforestation. Scientific and modern economic intervention into pastoralism has generally targeted the mobility and communal grazing characteristics of the system which results into sedentarized and most likely the enclosed, ranching system. This intervention has implication that the pastoralist ecosystem is a limited and valuable resource. The traditional pastoralist perception is contrary to this implication, and considers and wishes to consider that pastoral land is essentially vast wilderness with no instituted limitation of use (no use limits except the availability of pastures). This obviously contradicts most intervention outlook. Even with most prominent advocates for promotion and improvement of pastoralist resource exploitation strategy, the baseline seems somewhere to be based on sedentarization or predictable location prior to other proposed measures like nutritional and veterinary assistance for livestock, services such as education (schools) and health; and setting up emergency grazing areas [Ibid]. There has been extensive scholarly analysis of the livelihood and sustainability of pastoralism as a way of life of a significant proportion of the human population. Much criticism exists arguing that mobility of large herds of livestock is stressful to the environment as it would cause extensive removal of vegetation. Repeated uncontrolled grazing often ends up into bare land where vegetation is completely removed. Due to livestock trampling topsoil of an area usually becomes much pulverized while the immediate subsoil beneath becomes severely compacted. Pulverized soil is prone to extensive loss of soil through wind erosion while when it rains sheet erosion sweeps away very easily most of the pulverized soil. The surface run-off becomes much enhanced by the compacted soil condition. Therefore, while rainfall would be stimulant for vegetation re-growth, because of extensive vegetation removal and compaction the rainfall instead becomes an enhancer of bareness of the soil after washing away all the soil that would support vegetation re-growth. In the Sahel in Africa, it has been reported that vegetation removal by livestock in the area is believed to have increased soil surface albedo to the extent of causing reduction of rainfall and rapid desertification. The worst thing about the unlimited mobility is that it can extend its impact beyond limits. Another criticism on pastoralism is centered on the system’s tendency against limited use rights of pastureland In this context all pastureland is communal and open to limitless grazing. Since communal use of pasturelands prevents any sense of ownership of the land, no individual pastoralist can think of expansion of his activities within the locality in which he is existing at any particular time. At the same time the pastoralist cannot intuit any idea of intensification because under communal ownership there is no ground on which this intensification can be exercised. Under the communal setup, for example, a pastoralist cannot think of possibility of substituting some of the livestock for more pasture land. This is the dilemma of the communal land tenure system of traditional pastoralism. In his much referred “Tragedy of the commons”, criticizes very categorically the communal grazing characteristic of pastoralism and insists privatization as a way to correct imbalances of the pastoralist practice. In his article he described how common property resources shared by pastoralists eventually become over-used and ruined. He argued that the pastoralist land use strategy is unstable and a cause of environmental degradation. Earlier more than a century ago, also criticized pastoralism and argued observing that as far as common grazing land is concerned there is everything against it. He asserted that where there is communal grazing, every peasant in the village would tend to maximize the opportunity within the same limited area, with the result that grazing lands become always overstocked, never given rest, and usually become little more than exercise grounds for cattle (Ibid). Facts about this are difficult to totally refute even though some more recent literature elaborate contrary opinion and argue for a more interdisciplinary apprehension.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
When ranching was introduced, the economic contribution of the livestock was the major consideration. This consideration relegated the multiple functions and non-economic uses of livestock, which might be more important to the Fulani. Ranching capitalized on enhanced production output, but overlooked the potential use of animals as self-reproducing wealth, symbol of prestige, medium of social exchange, and insurance policy (Cisse 1980; and Schneider 1981). A major policy mistake was that of failing to understand that traditional pastoralism was an important source of food and employment on a continuous basis to most of the household members (Sandford 1982; and Cossins 1983). It is against this backdrop that the researcher intends to investigate the problem and prospect of cattle ranching in Nigeria
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The main the objective of the study is to ascertain the problem and prospect of cattle ranching in Nigeria. To aid the successful completion of the study, the researcher intends to achieve the following specific objective;
i) To ascertain the problem of cattle ranching in Nigeria
ii) To examine the merit of cattle ranching in cattle production in Nigeria
iii) To evaluate the relationship between cattle ranching and cattle production in Nigeria
iv) To examine the role of cattle ranching in reducing communal clashes
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
The researcher formulates the following research hypotheses to aid the successful completion of the study;
H0: there is no significant relationship between cattle ranching and cattle production in Nigeria
H1: there is a significant relationship between cattle ranching and cattle production in Nigeria
H02: cattle ranching do not play any significant role in combatting communal clashes in Nigeria
H2: cattle ranching do play a significant role in combatting communal clashes in Nigeria
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
It is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of great importance to the house committee on agriculture and federal ministry of agriculture as the study seek to enumerate the numerous benefit of cattle ranching over open grazing as this will help in policy formation, the study will also be of importance to the security operative as the findings of the study will help them strategize to curb the menace of herdsmen farmers conflict in Benue state, the study will also be useful to researchers who intend to embark on a study in a similar topic as the study will serve as a reference point to further studies. Finally, the study will be of great importance to reporters, academia’s, students, teachers and the general public as the study will add to the pool of existing literature and also contribute to bank of knowledge in the subject matter.
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The scope of the study covers cattle ranching problems and prospect in Northern Nigeria, in the cause of the study, there are some factors which limited the scope of the study;
a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study
b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
c) Finance: the finance budgeted for the study was a major constraint to the scope of the study, as the researcher has limited resources at his disposal to combine both research work and other academic engagement.
1.7 OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
Cattle colloquially cows are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos Taurus
A ranch is an area of land, including various structures, given primarily to the practice of ranching, the practice of raising grazing livestock such as cattle or sheep for meat or wool.
A crisis is any event that is going to lead to an unstable and dangerous situation affecting an individual, group, community, or whole society
1.8 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY
This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows
Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.
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