An agriculturist and National Coordinator of Zero Hunger Farmers Commodities of Nigeria, Dr. Tunde Arosanyin, has urged the Federal Government to urgently explore ranching as a way of breeding cattle or risk losing sizeable number of citizens to cancer, cardiac arrest and other terminal diseases.
He also advised Nigeria to emulate other countries who have adopted ranching as the best practice in rearing cattle, which he said had eliminated herder/farmer clashes in those countries.
The national coordinator gave the warning at an award ceremony conferred on him by the Okun Media Links at the weekend in Lokoja, Kogi State capital.
He noted that it is no longer fashionable for livestock to trek over a distance of 500-800 kilometers, saying apart from threats to food security, it poses grave dangers to health of citizens.
Arosanyin added that the long trekking by cattle yearly from the north to the south and back to the north would affect the nutritional value, pointing out that nomadic herds produce less milk compared to those in the ranch.
He disclosed that the Kudale and wild cattle breeds available in Nigeria, if reared in ranches, could produce 12 litres of milk in two days, but lamented that they hardly produce two litres because the nutrients that would have been converted to milk have been expended on long trek.
Dr. Arosanyin disclosed that the beef that Nigerians consume is nothing but fibrous as the protein has been lost to trekking.
According to him, the grave danger of open grazing is that the animals feed on grasses, leaves that may have been sprayed with insecticides and herbicides with their pathogenic and transgenic elements that affect humans.
“Pathogenic and transgenic elements are not easily dissolved in plants and when the cows feed on the grasses, it has residual effect of mammalian toxicity and when one eats such meat or drinks such milk, one is invariably taking these elements ignorantly into his or her body system,” he said.
He urged the government to enter into partnership with international organisations to help develop some areas into ranches, which would ultimately reduce insecurity and ensure food security across the country.
He decried the pervading high cost of food in Kogi State, saying ordinarily, Kogi should not have been associated with food scarcity.
According to him, the agricultural potential of the state is very high with the two major rivers, Niger and Benue, which traverse through the state, lamenting that improper agricultural policies had impeded the growth of the sector.
He enjoined the state government, through ministry of agriculture, to develop schemes that would interface with farmers, whereby they could give them support through input subsidy and mechanical equipment like tractors.
He suggested massive recruitment of agriculture graduates who would work as extension service officers to interface with farmers on new technologies and best practices.