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This study examines cattle trade and its place in the development of Maigatari economy in Jigawa state, Nigeria between 1960-2010.It is an important variable in the country’s development equation. It is a trade dominated by Nigerians and Nigeriens including a proportion of the local people. Then government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources with the support of non-governmental organization such as Directory of International Development (DFID) has been concerned with upgrading the sector as well as the contribution of the trade to the economic development of the community. Government efforts have been focused on balancing the protein requirements of its citizens to achieve an acceptable human growth. This has failed due to inadequate consideration given to the cattle trade. This study recuperates the unsung history of cattle trade and highlights its proper place in the economic development of Maigatari community and Nigeria in general. Important aspects of Maigatari economy, especially cattle production and its spread effects to other sectors in the economy are brought into focus. Relying on the fieldwork data, derived from oral Interview and written data elicited from libraries and other stakeholders in the cattle sector, the study evaluates the impact of the trade on the economy and people of Maigatari.  The research shows that an increase in cattle production created a good atmosphere for cattle trade. Also the cattle trade has been a source of income and nutritional products. In spite of all these benefits, cattle trade is faced with problems such as farmer/grazier conflicts, harassment on the road, and lack of funds on the part of the cattle rearers, insecurity, and lack of education. Based on the available data from the fieldwork, the work presents suggestions on how government and other agencies could come together to foster sustainable development in the cattle trade not only in Maigatari but also in Nigeria at large. The method of research applied of quantitative as well as qualitative, chronological and inter- disciplinary thematic with 1960-2010 as the time frame.



Background to the Study

            Maigatari town is the headquarter of Maigatari Local Government Area, found in Jigawa State of Northern Nigeria. It is located about 139 kilometers from Dutse, the state capital, as shown in map 1. The population of Maigatari was estimated in the 2006 national population census to be about 17,715 inhabitants.1 The inhabitants of the area are mainly Hausa, Fulani, Kanuri, Igbo and Yoruba. Maigatari is bordered in north by Niger Republic and in the South by Gumel Local Government Area (LGA). It shares borders with Sule Tankarkar LGA, to the east and Malam Madori (LGA) to the west and north east with Yobe State. Maigatari covers an area of 1500 square meters out of which 1250 square kilometers serve as grazing and cattle route2. The area lies in the geographical zone known as Sahel- savanna.

            The cattle market of Maigatari is located at the extreme end of Northern Nigeria and shares a common border with Niger Republic (See Map I) besides cattle, the market, like all Nigerian markets, sells a variety of goods, including food items such as millet, fish, sauce ingredients, vegetable and other agricultural produce.      

            Cattle trade is a major pillar of the local economy and even though many people specialize in trade in a variety of animals, such as cattle, camels, donkeys, horses, goats, sheep and chicken, among others, cattle remains the predominant article of trade in the market; hence the name Maigatari Cattle market.

            The market was established in 1929 as a stop-over by merchants from Niger Republic coming to Nigeria to sell raffia, potash and cattle.3. From its humble beginning, the market, over time, has attracted people from different places such as Igbo land and the Yoruba land.

Map I: Showing the Study Area

Initially, sheds meant for other goods in the town served as collecting and exporting center for the various cattle merchants. Some of the cattle were imported while some were bred in Nigeria and exported to other neighboring countries.4

            The vegetation is predominantly grassland. The Sahel- savannah vegetation covers most of the landscape. Four types of grasses dominate the grass field; these are Dectyloctaniun, (gude-gude) Denchrus,, Digitaria, and paspalum. Maigatari experiences a climatic condition similar to that of the Sahara desert and is faced with the problem of desert encroachment and scanty annual rainfall5. The climatic condition and soil type support the cultivation of cowpea, sorghum, millet and beans, groundnuts, maize, and benniseed. 

            The town has a network of roads: one route goes southwards and links Kano, Gezawa    Koguyan Sabuwa, Garki Dadinduniya, Danladi, Kakuditsuru, and Gumel. A northern route goes from Dingas, Bangaya, Dogo-dogo, to Maigatari. The western route runs from Malam-Madori through Gumel to Maigatari while an eastern route runs from Babura through Yandamo,  Sule Tankarkar and Gumel to Maigataria (as shown in Map II). A track road  leads  from Maifaru via Danmakama, Dangwanki  to Maigatari 6. There are various other trade routes that are linked with Maigatari.  For example through the routes, commodities were transported by motor vehicles as well as by pack animals within and outside Maigatari community. Cattle and other items from Maigatari are sold in local, state and regional markets, especially within neighboring communities and the southern parts of Nigeria. Maigatari is not connected to rail and water transport.

Map II: Showing the trade routes and sources of cattle sold in Maigatari Cattle Market (as indicated by the arrows).

            Like other parts of Nigeria, Maigatari has two climatic seasons: the rainy season and the dry season: The rainy season spans from June to September with an interval from September to November. This period is called “kaka”(in Hausa language), harvesting period. Hamattan (sanyi in Hausa language) caused by cold and dusty northeast winds occurs between October and February. The dry season usually has a high temperature; the mean annual temperature is about 44oC.     

            In distant pre-colonial times, the rainfall in the area was less scanty than it is at present. The rainfall in those times supported some forest vegetation with rich wildlife. However, with time, human activities greatly diminished most of the primeval vegetation. The annual burning of savanna trees by cattle rearers for pasture and the felling of trees for agriculture, fuel, and building purposes has greatly denuded the grass fields of most of their natural vegetation.

            Maigatari, like some other Nigerian towns, promoted and still promotes cattle trade as a principal agent of socio-economic development. Cattle made their first appearance in Maigatari grass fields from Niger and spread to other parts of Nigeria many centuries ago7.  The market holds weekly on Thursdays, though some transactions start on Wednesday and goes on up to Saturday. The market is patronized by both Nigerians and Nigeriens. This business between Nigerian and Niger Republic merchants has continued to attract more traders from all over Nigeria. Hence, the merchants converge at the village every week.

            Over time¸ Maigatari livestock market gradually metamorphosed into a popular rendezvous for selling various kinds of animals such as cattle, goats, sheep, camels, donkeys, horses and local chickens; but cattle is the most prominent of all the livestock sold in the market. Also, some craft items produced locally are sold; such as calabash, leather, and knives. Ploughs, local chairs, hats, and pots amongst others, are exchanged for some commodities that are not produced in Maigatari. These include yams, gari, sugarcane, potash, clothes, kola nuts, palm oil and oranges, amongst others from other places.

            The organization of trade in Maigatari is predominantly in the hands of the Hausa and is complex.  Only some minor changes have occurred in the organization since its inception8. The market was headed by Sarkin Kasuwa under the custody of Maigatari Local Government Authority and Jigawa State government. He was assisted by some officials from both local and state governments to supervise the smooth running of market affairs. These officials include vigilante groups, the police, revenue collectors and inspectors.

            It is not possible to give accurate data or a sound quantitative analysis of the number of cattle supplied to Maigatari cattle market during this period of study due to scanty data on the subject matter. However, useful hints collected from both written records and other sources suggest that a growing number of cattle were sourced from different places. According to Maigatari Livestock Veterinary Control Post (M LVCP) records, cattle supplied to Maigatari in 1995, stood at 16,243. The figures recorded as follows: 14,771 cattle in 1996; and 17,370 in 2006 and then dropped to 15,770 in 2007.9 Same sources show that the number reached 2000 cattle per week in 2011, goats and sheep’s, 1500; donkeys, 1000 and 500 for camels and 200 for horses.  It needs to be stressed that not all cattle that enter the Maigatari pass through the MLVCP.

            As the population of Nigeria increases, there have been more mouths to feed. Livestock products, especially cattle beef, constitute a significant part of the diet for more than 50% of the population. Other products like milk, hides and skins, and butter, are highly consumed in parts of the country, especially in the east, west, and the middle belt as well as outside Nigeria.10

            One of the major challenges confronting Maigatari cattle trade is how to feed this growing population. This requires developing a strategy for livestock production facilities and capable institutions to harness the potentials of animals traded. It is needless to emphasize the role cattle plays in the economic development of Nigeria.  Agriculture is the main stay of Maigatari economy, over 70% of the population engage in this activity, which includes farming, food processing and livestock production. Red Mbororo breed of cattle dominates other cattle species in terms of the number reared and the life of the people revolves around cattle. While men head and sell cattle, women engage in subsidiary activities such as milking the animal, preparing butter and selling the by-products.11

            Cattle breeding serves as the main source of animal protein for the people, and three major variants of extensive cattle production system have remained predominant. They include the pure pastoralists for whom cattle breeding is the main, if not the only economic, pursuit. The agro-pastoralists practice crop farming and at the same time rear cattle. The extensive system of cattle rearing is based on indigenous breeds of long horn cattle notably the Red Mbororo in Nigeria in general, particularly in Maigatari, Jigawa State12.

            Before Nigeria’s independence, cattle trade in Maigatari was administered under the Land and Native Authority Ordinance. Cattle control rules were enacted in Northern Nigeria by colonial government. This remained in vogue until the British colonized Northern Nigeria. The Federal Republic of Nigeria became independent on 1st October, 1960 and attained her republican status in1963. The post colonial government’s interest in the cattle trade focused on increased production of livestock. In the past, cattle development strategies failed to increase the number of productive animals due to appropriate packages of technology13. In 2007, as a result of the government interest in increasing livestock productivity, some measures were taken to bring about an improvement in the sector. These include the following:

1.         Construction of boreholes

2.         Construction of good roads

3.      Reduction of tax per head of livestock from N200 to N100 and later from N100 to N50.

4.         Granting of soft loans to farmers, especially with regard for animal rearing or                     production.

5.         Creation of a government   veterinary pharmaceutical office.

The government of Jigawa State promotes Maigatari cattle trade as a principal agent of socio-economic and cultural development by establishing a free border market zone for every individual to come and invest. Being the largest market for cattle in the state, the development and contribution of Maigatari in cattle trade and its economic and social impact have been widely recognized. It is up to the government to put in more effort to make the cattle trade attains its full potentialities14. Onwuka Njoku states that, development is concerned with how best to harness available human and natural resources, so that the productive forces in society are released. This involves economic utilization of manpower in a way that not only raises productivity but also makes it self -generating and self –sustaining15

Statement of the Problem

            There is a potent domestic cattle trade sector in Maigatari which is predominantly informal, consisting of many subsistence enterprises, but with a huge contribution to the economy of the study area.  This is in addition to some other market activities, spreading across the towns and villages of the study area; most of these have indirect nexus with the cattle trade.

             Before now, research attention on cattle trade has been focused mostly on Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Lagos. Maigatari has not been given any research attention since its emergence as a cattle market in the 1960s. Yet, the town plays an important role in this aspect of the economy. In fact, Maigatari occupies a leading place in the cattle trade and other commercial activities. It enjoys the status of a town with a very fast growth of trading activities. Most of these commercial activities, like cattle trade and crafts, have not gained the attention of historians. The neglect of this market town by researchers leaves a lacuna in our understanding of the economy of the area over time; For instance, with respect to distribution of agricultural products and imports within Jigawa state. Maigatari plays a central role. It also serves as an entrepot in the trade of Jigawa State and neighboring states as well as with Niger Republic. The need to fill out this lacuna therefore can hardly be over-stressed.

Purpose of the Study

            The broad purpose of this study is to research cattle trade in Maigatari from a historical perspective. In this regard, the following issues will be investigated and analyzed: the genesis and organization of the trade, and the role played by cattle as an epicenter of trade in Maigatari. Factors such as environmental, location and political, that have aided the rise of cattle trade to prominence and those which have impeded it from attaining its full potentials will also be discussed.

Significance of the Study

            The study has both academic and practical significance. Firstly, by filling in some niches in the existing literature, the study will be advancing scholarly knowledge on the subject matter. Speculations arising from lack of knowledge of the subject will be laid to rest. Hopefully, this study will also stimulate further research in related areas. Secondly, the place of this trade in creating a bond of unity among the people of diverse ethnic origins participating in it should be of immense benefit to Nigeria currently grappling with the problem of nation building. The example of unity in diversity can be copied and applied in the sociology of a diversified nation of different cultures.

            Thirdly, the job opportunities which cattle trade provides would be discussed along with its socio-economic benefit. This is of special significance in view of the alarming rate of unemployment in Nigeria, such  jobs as those of revenue collectors, security personnel, cattle agents otherwise known as (Dillalai)  transporters, animal residue collectors butchers known as “Pawa”, food vendors (Dako) and haulage businessmen. This will reduce the prevailing level of unemployment and increase economic growth by giving jobless youths a means to gain some income.

            Fourthly, the study hopes to provide useful data and suggestions to guide the government in finding ways to instill nationalism, patriotism, mutual trust and confidence by coming together through trade, especially among Nigerians from diverse ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds and some effective ways in unifying citizens. Fifthly, the study will shed useful light on the immense benefit of the bilateral understanding between Nigeria and Niger Republic and possibly with other countries. 

Theoretical Framework

            The theory of location advantage is very apt as a tool of analysis in this work and will be applied. This theory states that a town, district or region can be very advantaged as a result of its strategic geographical location. Such location confers superior advantage to the region, town or district in relation to its neighbors. This theory is very much akin to the theory of comparative advantage popular among economists such as David Ricardo. In fact, the location theory is concerned with the geographical location of economic activity; it has become an internal part of economic geography and regional science. It addresses the question of what economic activity that takes place where: and why in a sense of comparative advantage 16 

            Maigatari market rose to pre-eminence from the 1960s as a result of the following considerations. First, it is strategically located and mediates trade between Niger Republic to the north and   Nigeria to the south. Niger Republic is a major cattle breeder with scanty domestic market. On the other hand, Nigeria with its huge population, land mass and economic power, is a huge market for cattle. Significantly, livestock does not breed well in most parts of Nigeria, especially the southern parts which are tsetse fly infested, characterized by many months of heavy rainfall and relative  but seasonal absence of adequate grass or fodder.

            Secondly, Maigatari is headquarters of Maigatari Local Government Area. This position enables it to pull commercial activities to itself. This makes it a nerve center of administrative and political activities which, in turn, generate considerable commercial activities

             Third, Maigatari is the nerve center of a network of roads that links it with many commercial centers not only in Nigeria but in countries bordering Nigeria. This locational advantage gives the town a strong pull effect on the neighboring and even distant communities with which it has trade relations.

Scope of the Study

            The study focuses on Maigatari in Jigawa state and its linkages to cattle trade. The time frame covers the period 1960– 2010; that is a period of fifty years. There are reasons for the time span. The year 1960 was chosen because, although Maigatari cattle market had been in existence since 1929, it was only in 1960 that a road link was constructed to link the town and Kano, the commercial emporium of Northern Nigeria. The advent of that road link resulted in a huge expansion of the cattle industry in Maigatari. Cattle dealers who had used Kano as their base began to explore and exploit the potentials of Maigatari. And the business has grown with the passage of time.

             This work terminates in 2010 because that was the year the Jigawa State government, through the Net Care Limited, made a serious attempt to ascertain the volume of cattle traded in Maigatari. Secondly, by 2010 the government had set up a committee to look into recurrent farmer-pastoralist conflicts in the state. The committee visited Niger Republic. All these efforts were geared towards boosting cattle production and cattle trade at Maigatari.

Sources and Methods

            The data for this research were elicited from two sources: namely primary sources and secondary sources.  Primary data were collected from oral informants. Most of whom are very informed on the subject of this research, primary material were gotten from Jigawa State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (JARDA), Jigawa State Empowerment and Development Strategy Summit, and Maigatari Local Government Revenue and Agriculture Departments.  The secondary sources include literature and data relevant to the work, available in various university libraries in Nigeria, such as University of Nigeria Nsukka and Ahmadu Bello University Zaria

            As is the vogue in contemporary research works; this study employs interdisciplinary approach by borrowing the tools of related disciplines like Economics, Geography, Sociology, Statistic etc. Such tools include the use of theories, tables, percentages and ratios. The chapter arrangement combines themes with chronology while the discussion and analysis of issues combine the qualitative with the quantitative approach, as available data permit. The grouping of ideas into chapters is based on specific historical benchmarks.

Literature Review

A number of publications on the cattle farming and trade have appeared in books, newspapers and magazines: projects have been conducted in which cattle trade and its development has been discussed.  Some of the works focused mostly on places like Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, and Lagos, to mention these few. Some of these works which are related to this study are discussed below.

            Musa Sadiq in his book, Meat Inspection and Hygeine17 argues that a cattle market should be located near to an abattoir in order to reduce the hardship of an injured or stressed animal before slaughter and that animal should be transported by the shortest way to the abattoir. His analysis of cattle inspection is valuable to this research, as he also argues that , the maintenance of animal health is an important part of animal production because, the aim of any livestock project is to maximize profit and as such it is the duty of veterinarians to design  programs to reduce disease risk to any given animal production.

            Hashimu Habibs in an article titled “Maigatari Livestock Market Records 7 Billion Turnovers”18 gives some insight on the history of cattle trade at Maigatari cattle market. This work, which is related to the writer’s area of study, is of immense value as it describes the origin, nature of Maigatari cattle Market from inception in 1929 and the advantages of Maigatari’s proximity to Niger Republic. Habib reports that the Sarkin Kasuwa, Alhaji Daguwaje19 of Maigatari international cattle market said that, thousands of traders patronize the market on weekly basis and that transactions amounting to over one billion naira are recorded every Thursday at Maigatari. Patronage, he says, comes from both within and outside the country.

            An article in    Sunday Trust captioned, “The Making of an International Cattle Market”20 observes that, the uniqueness of Maigatari cattle market is found in the fact that, every type of business has its location there. For instance, the main town is the centre for household items and daily essential commodities such as food and clothes, while dealers on all breeds of cattle are at the new site, built by the Jigawa state government. The article points out that, the market covers an area of almost two and a half kilometers close to border with Niger republic. The article provides us with an idea of the size of the market and the nature of businesses in Maigatari.In the said article, Shazali Umar, the Chief Executive of Net Care Limited, 21 noted that, long man-hours, and huge amounts of money were spent by the Government to develop local markets in Northern Nigeria to an international standard. He estimated the volume of trade in Maigatari cattle market to have N7billion.  He argues that the trade has a lot of untapped potentials and studies had been carried out to develop Maigatari livestock market by providing it with essential infrastructure. The work points out the attempts by the Government to improve the condition of the market and also provides an insight into the amount of revenue generated in the market.   

            Michael Crowder in his article, “Republic of Niger and Northern Neighbors”22 examines the relationship between Niger Republic and her Northern Nigeria neighbors.. He observes that Niger, a desert country and a former French colony, has scanty rainfall under which only nomads can thrive with their animals. He observes a close symbiotic relationship between the two countries.  Maradi is the seat of a succession of Habe kings of Katsina in Nigeria and the brilliant Fulani man named Usman Danfodio was trained at Agades. It was the European demarcations that separated the two countries in 1900. Some of the trans-Saharan caravan routes had their termini in Kano and Katsina. However, the present contact has been greatly affected as a result of the establishment of customs border posts. Despite the colonial divisions, there is obviously still considerable contact between the two countries, especially in cattle trade. Maigatari cattle market has Niger as one of its major sources of cattle supply. This work is of immense value to this study. The nomadic Fulani naturally take little notice of frontiers. One can see their cattle being sold in markets as far as south as Ogbomosho, Enugu, Warri, Lagos, Ibadan, and Port Harcourt, to mention a few. Crowder’s work is not on Maigatari cattle trade perse. The same it is still of benefit to this research, since it gives reasons for the continued movement of Fulani with their cattle from Niger into Nigeria.

            Onuora Nzekwu in, “The Far-Flung Fulani”23 asserts that Nigerians are familiar with the sight of Fulani herdsmen accompanying their cattle on their leisurely way through Northern Nigeria bush, and Fulani women selling butter and “fura” under trees in Nigerian markets. Infarct, the Fulani is widely spread in West Africa but no one knows for certain where they came from originally, they are entirely nomadic, moving around in search of fresh pasture and water sources for their animals. They have similar physical features. The work is useful to this study, among other reasons, because it points out the itinerant ethnic configuration of the nomads who supply the cattle to the markets.

            For many years these nomads settled in groups, in villages and towns, like other neighboring ethnic groups. They engage in farming and other occupations but maintain their primordial interest in cattle. For instance, the Fulani in Nigeria have their counterparts in Mali, Cameroun, and Futa-Toro as rearers and sellers of cattle.  They have mixed and even intermarried with their hosts.

            Okedigi in his article entitled, “Cattle Industry in Northern Nigeria 1900 – 1939”24 describes the development of cattle industry through the activities of indigenous cattle dealers and herders, in response to improved market opportunities. He identifies Zebu Fulani cattle and their distribution in different parts of the country, and those that came from the Niger Republic. He states that the Fulani were originally under Habe rulers but their status changed with victory of the holy war which made them to own large numbers of cattle. Cattle is an important commodity for prestige ranking. The market place had been the traditional centre for distribution and exchange goods and services even before the Hausa/Fulani jihad and a wide range of goods were available. The Fulani see markets as important social centers but also venues where thousands of cattle are slaughtered and sold on a single market day. It is obvious that a great number of people make their living from this pursuit. Okedigi also argues that the pastoral Fulani earn much of their income from the sale of cattle and demonstrate more flexibility in their economic adjustment than is generally believed. The increasing demand for cattle in the 20th century, particularly from the Yoruba area and Ilorin resulted more from  the expansion  of export products like palm kernel, palm oil and cocoa and the development of railway transportation than had previously been possible. This is because the cash crop farmers exchanged their produce with those of the cattle farmers. In addition, the advent of the railway facilitated inters- regional trade. The Lagos- Ibadan line opened in 1901 had been extended to Oshogbo by 1906 and reached Kano in 1912: These extensions stimulated the growth of an internal exchange economy. The simple method of sourcing cattle from the pastoral Fulani was through agents with no government involvement. The agents gave the pastoralists inducement goods like salt, foods stuffs, cloths, and some time cash. He pointed out the critical role transport has played in the development of the cattle trade.

             In, “Traditional Cattle Industry in Sub- humid Zone of Nigeria’’25, Otchere describes the size, structure, general management and productivity of herds under a pastoral condition at Kaduna, Nigeria. He argues that, the average price per liter of milk for human consumption was determined by International Livestock Center, (ILC) in sub- humid zones. The ILC was charged with the responsibility to improve livestock breeding which would enable cows to produce milk for sale. This was practiced through daily morning milking to allow the calf to suckle for about a minute to initiate the flow of milk. The .milk was traded and popularized by Fulani as protein diet to other communities.

            Dumber, in “Livestock Marketing in Nigeria”26 gives some insight into the potential profit in cattle trade between Northern and Southern Nigeria. This potential began to be realized in 1912, when the Shehu of Bornu, with the help of British residents, exported cattle and sheep to Lagos through the then newly completed rail line. One major problem of the rail line is that, it did not reach the remote cattle producing areas. The work will be of benefit to this research as it points out the constraints associated with the cattle transportation in respect of rail transport.

             In “Cattle Industry in Northern Nigeria,” Ademosu, 27 argues that, road transport has rendered the railway almost useless in Nigeria, because road haulage is more efficient. By road transportation, just two days is enough to take animals to the south from the North. The spread of road haulage has resulted in steady supply of cattle in the Southern markets leading to a steady fall of meat price, The Fulani who do not own the vehicle rely on the middlemen to haul the herds. The service offered by transporters is expensive becaus

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