“Livestock Dying Hunger” Many livestock are dying in Yobe as a result of shortage of fodder in many parts of the state.
Our correspondent reports that herdsmen in the state are now forced to reduce the size of their herds to a level they can carter for. To achieve that, they sell many of their animals to buy food for the others to survive.
Ali Sarama, Sarkin Tike (leader of Damaturu livestock market) told Daily Trust that the frequent migration of herdsmen to Yobe as a result of herders-farmers clashes in Adamawa, Taraba, Benue and Zamfara states has jerked up prices of livestock fodder in the state.
He said the situation was being compounded by shortage of grazing land in the state.
“Their best bet was to sell some of their animals and buy food for the remaining, because the livestock are dying from hunger. With this, the markets are flooded and the livestock prices have fall to the advantage of buyers. A cow of N100,000 is now sold for N70,000,” he said.
Sarkin Tike also said early cessation of rainfall in Yobe and Borno states in recent times has contributed to the herders’ plight. “Last year by now, our forest was lash green; grasses and other livestock forage were everywhere. Today, we are in the month of July, but our forest is still brown without grasses, and many of our local farmers have given up on cultivation this season,” he said.
The National President, Kulen Allah Cattle Rearers Association (KACRAN), Khaleel Mohammad Bello, said the number of livestock coming into Yobe on a daily basis was very alarming and with attendant consequences.
“Apart from climate change that has delayed rainfall in Yobe, they cannot cross over to the shores of Lake Chad to graze or migrate to Chad because the eastern part of Borno is not accessible.
“Also, coupled with the large number of livestock owned by indigenous rearers in Yobe, the position of food security for the livestock is unpredictable, because the animals are already dying of hunger and we don’t know what would happen in the nearest future.
“The grazing areas are without grasses for the animals to feed on. This pathetic situation needs a quick and serious intervention from the Federal Government, World Bank, national and international donors,” he said.
Bello said the government should come to their aid pointing out that Yobe has more than 30 grazing reserves that could be utilized to bring them succor. These, he said, include Nasri grazing reserve in Jakusko local government, which is the largest in the county.
“Yobe is one of the richest states in the country in terms of livestock production, and it has the biggest cattle market in West Africa. If government can utilize this situation, the state would go beyond the largest livestock producer in Nigeria but the whole of Africa,” he said.
When our correspondent visited Tike Potiskum, the largest cattle markets in West Africa, the chairman, Cattle Traders Association, Alhaji Grema Ya’u, lamented that there was never a time that herders suffered huge loss of livestock due to hunger as this season.
“In my 30 years’ experience in this business, there has never been scarcity and rising cost of animal feed as this year. In fact, the animals are dying, the feed costs too exorbitantly or even not available in some cases and the price of livestock crashing.
“Cornstalk that we don’t usually feed our animals with has now become hot cake. A bag of wheat offal that sold at N2,700 has reached N5,000. What do you think would happen with this long delay in rainfall?
“Also, it is not only the herdsmen that are affected. Those into cattle fattening business are also affected as a cow that the usually raise and sell for N300,000 now goes for N200,000; the one for N220,000 is now N130,000 while those for N100,000 sell for N60,000,” he said.
Ya’u, said all these are as a result of the delay in rainfall and over grazing in the area due to herdsmen’s migration to Yobe from conflict areas.
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Yobe, a state known for the production of grains, beans, groundnut and other legumes for human and livestock feeds is engulfed in six years of Boko Haram crisis that degraded the sector.
While the state is trying to recover from that effect, the massive influx of livestock from the crisis zones is causing drastic shortage of grazing land and rising cost of fodder.
A herdsman, Musah Ardo, who brought his cow to sell in the market, complained that cattle routes and grazing reserves have been taken over by farmers.
“We are forced to sell part of our herds to feed the rest, because we don’t want the crisis in Taraba and Benue to escalate here. We have been very peaceful since we arrived here. Most times, we sell our cows very cheap for lack of option because we cannot afford to see our cattle dying of hunger.”
Maikudi Audu, a cattle dealer in the market, said the price of livestock is determined by its health, size and availability.
“Of course, the markets are filled with animals but are they healthy? What about the meat and milk production? You can see for yourself, these cows are mostly stricken by hunger because the owner cannot afford their feeds.
However, Yobe farmers and herders have expressed worry over the massive influx of herdsmen from the troubled zones.
Buba Bella, a herdsman from Chirokusko village, said they have been living peacefully with farmers in the state, adding that they have not recorded any herdsmen-farmers clash in the past eight years.
He appealed to the state government to take a census of herdsmen relocating to the state and take measures on those with criminal record, if any, to maintain peaceful coexistence in the state.
A farmer, Yunusa Mamman, said herders-farmers clash was history in the state but he was not comfortable with the herdsmen migrating to the state.
“We just wake up and see them here. They were not profiled, and even the places they occupied were not given to them. That is why we seriously need the involvement of traditional rulers, security operatives and the state government itself,” he added.
Dr Mustapha Gaidam, Manager, Yobe Livestock Development Programme, described the massive livestock influx into Yobe as a heavy burden on government in terms of food, water provision in addition to immunization and disease control.
He said, with the crisis escalating, it would affect the economy in terms of beef and food production for both human and animals in the country.