From faraway Benue State of the Federal Republic of Nigeria comes a template we might wish to consider and modify for addressing our near-intractable Fulani challenge.
Conflict over land for grazing is not restricted to Ghana but other places where the antiquated free-range mode of cattle rearing persists.
With the occupation of cattle-breeding now commercialized, no longer confined to people of northern extraction and Fulani but engaged in by various brackets of persons- from politicians to retired military and police officers and even serving ones- the need for modernizing it cannot be overlooked. No longer can we allow the free range mode and its attendant drawbacks of destruction of food and cash crops by the grazing cattle be allowed as it used to be.
Emanating from the foregone reality is the fact that cattle as they are herded would veer into farms and the destructions which follow would generate conflicts. With the herdsmen now armed and the farm owners uncompromising, the result is what is making the headlines of late regarding the Fulani and indigenes of towns on the grassland areas.
Unless the challenge is addressed and soonest the avoidable bloodshed would unfortunately be played out incessantly given, especially, the obstinacy of the Fulani. They would do everything to protect the cattle which represent their wealth and lives.
Those who still look at cattle breeding with the lens of years gone by even as we are in modern times with peculiar realities, should rethink.
In Nigeria, fatalities continue to be recorded especially on the grass-rich Benue/Plateau zone because the Fulani and their cows destroy farms resulting in clashes. In Ghana, governments have over the years sought to address the challenge to no avail. We recall ‘Operation Cow Leg’ a military operation which was effective only when it lasted.
Eureka! A state in the middle belt of Nigeria which has experienced bloody incidents with the nomads has unfurled a new template breach of which attracts a jail term.
Free-range cattle rearing have been banned forthwith and persons who breach the law are liable upon conviction to a jail term not below five years.
We as a people should begin to follow this footstep so we can bring a closure to this seasonal bloodshed with the Fulani. If we don’t, it would not be long before we have Ghanaians responding to the threats of the nomads by taking the law into their own hands. We do not have to wait for matters to degenerate into this state before we adopt an effective response as the government of Benue State of Nigeria has done.
With our flagship ‘One District One Dam’ agenda cattle ranching, replicating the Benue State response would afford employment to the youth and indeed encourage others to invest in it across the country.
In our grassland areas government may wish to consider another layer to its flagship programmes- ‘One District Multiple Ranches’.
A legislation outlawing free-ranging must be considered as a matter of urgency as have Benue State.