As the date for the enforcement of ban on open grazing of cattle in Delta State draws near, the state chapter of Cattle Dealers Association yesterday demanded at least 30,000 square metres of land in each of the 25 local government areas of the state, totalling 750,000 square metres.
The cattle dealers want the government to designate land for livestock breeding and markets across the state.
The Cattle Traders Association, made this demand during a public hearing on a bill to ban open grazing in the state titled, “Bill for a Law to provide for the Regulation of Livestock Breeding, Rearing and Marketing and to Prohibit Open Grazing and related matters in Delta State.”
The Cattle Traders Association said the provision of lands by the state government will help them stop open grazing in the state.
At the hearing organised by the Delta State House of Assembly’s Joint Committee on special bills and that of agriculture and natural resources, the Association of Cattle dealers in a memorandum signed by the chairman, Alhaji Musa Shuwa, cried that the 5,000 square metres designated as grazing area as contained in the draft bill were grossly inadequate.
According Shuwa: “This is only for the markets. Also, each market takes delivery of not less than 800 cattle every week. Our members hardly sell all their cattle at the market, hence the need to feed the cattle by grazing.
“With the intendment of the draft of this bill being to ban open grazing, it is our respectful view that to have cattle within enclosed grazing area would mean that a large space of land is needed for this purpose.
“While we acknowledge that the 5,000 square metres mentioned in Section 8 (2a) is only in the minimum, it is our modest view that even in the minimum, 5,000 square metres of land may not be the best starting point.
“We, therefore, recommend that to practically satisfy having an abattoir, veterinary clinic, livestock market, administrative office and security post as provided in Section 2 (b) to (g), Section 2 (a) should provide that the designated area shall comprise a minimum of 30,000 square metres of land.”
The Delta State Government reacting to the demand of the cattle dealers, through the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, said that anyone that wants to engage in ranching in the state should buy lands for their business.
Aniagwu said: “Well, they are talking to the lawmakers but the fact is that we have made it very clear that anybody who wants to do ranching should buy land and then start his ranch.
“If I want to do poultry business, I get a place, pay for it and start my poultry farm. For those who are doing piggery, they get a place and start the piggery. If you want to do cattle business, get your ranch but if the Federal Government wants to assist people to get a ranch, no problem just as they are doing FADAMA for some cultivations.
“If the Federal Government also wants to have ranching-assisted programme, there is nothing wrong with it.
“The business of animal husbandry and animal rearing is also the business of our people, whether they are Fulani or not. But for anybody to think that the government has that kind of land to give is not true. The local government in our system does not own land. The lands belong to individuals and families.
“If the only land I have is just 1,000 square metres, will the local government ask me to donate it? And perhaps, that is the only land I have to either build or farm. Will the local government tell me, this land we are taking it from you, for me to be doing what thereafter? That is why people need to be reasonable in making this kind of demand.”