Today, my English is not in the mood, it may appear as checkered as the Fulani-cattle-crop farmers’ tussle.
Sometimes, when I think about the problems of our country, I do not understand why and how it appears we do not know what the solutions should be.
Today Fulani, tomorrow Agogo, another day security, the next herdsmen. In all sincerity, I do not consider myself as having adequate foundation of relevant knowledge to be able to analyse the situation and advise on what should be done.
Nonetheless, having had the opportunity to see what cattle farming looks like elsewhere, in a developed society, I will tell you what I saw and learnt and how an attempt to adopt their system, modify it to respond to our situation could prove useful for what we have been discussing since …. I don’t even know.
Somewhere, cattle farming is heavily regulated by law. Not only does the law requires you to have a license to own and rear animals, the law tells you what kind of house to build for the animals; housing designs that take into consideration the welfare of the animals, the management of waste and even the management of the emission of greenhouse gases; the law tells you what to feed the animals; the law tells you how to treat the animals in the event of ill-health; just about any and everything the animal farmer does is regulated.
Why is the system anyhow and ‘someway bi’ over here? Why are our leaders failing to see the opportunities for sustainable job and wealth creation if we had an organized cattle farming system?
My last visit to a farm somewhere was in 2016. I visited a dairy farm and a pig farm. The trip was necessitated by a course in Communication, Extension and Decision Making. We had been introduced to Farm Boards and we had to visit these farms to interact with the owners on how useful these farm boards have been to their farms. A farm board is a group of individuals with skill sets relevant to the management of a farm. The board advises the farmer and may in some cases serve as decision maker though in many instances, the decisions or pieces of advice are not binding on the farmer who constitutes the board.
The truth is, over there, agriculture has become increasingly specialised, and more and more actors are becoming involved in farm decision making. There are a range of characteristics in this development of agricultural production and food systems which pose increasing demands on the abilities of farmers and other actors to handle knowledge and complexity.
For instance, a farmer needs the services of architects and building technologists to design his animal houses, he needs the services of engineers because he has to use an automated milking system to collect milk from his cows, he needs an agricultural economist to advise him on whether to convert from conventional to organic farming based on changing consumer preferences and their appetites for foods produced in ‘environmentally friendly’ manner. A farmer puts it in simple words, ‘farming today is not just farming’.
Over there, I agree but here, farming has been business as usual. My friend Nana tells me the next world war may be fought over natural resources and we see that happening here; marauding cattle ravaging farm lands, polluting dams which belong to crop farmers. This is….is….. I just can’t find the right words.
So far, our efforts at curbing the Fulani menace has been NATO- led (No Action Talk Only-in Alan
I will be brief and snappy here. What should we do?
To be honest, I do not know if the Fulanis are Ghanaian citizens but I know some Ghanaian cattle owners may give their cattle to some Fulanis to manage. Where are our anthropologists? Please educate us on this. I will still advise on what could be done anyway.
As a preliminary objective, Government needs to gather sufficient and relevant information on the activities of Fulanis and all cattle owners or farmers. This is necessary to ensure that we make an informed decision. Because if our premise is wrong, of necessity our conclusion will and must be wrong. This may explain the reason our problems keep recurring like the floods, the fires, Oh. Please.
Enough of the trial and error leadership. Find below 5 ways to make Fulanis and crop farmers, citizens and not spectators.
- Make it a law, to be authorised and licensed in order to own and rear animals.
- Specify in the law, what area a cattle farm should occupy based on the size of the herd.
- Farmers must in accordance with the law, provide proof of availability of feed for animals before they are issued license to operate.
- A proof of feed availability may be in the form of hectares of cultivated land dedicated to feeding the animals. This burden could be shared, thus, providing opportunities for young and unemployed individuals to cultivate lands solely for animal feed.
Elsewhere, the partnership is so beautiful. The crop farmers rely on the animal farmers for manure for their fields to grow the crops. It is some kind of circular economy and waste recycling affair.
- This is a beautiful opportunity to build and establish food chains while diversifying agriculture. We will be laying the foundation for feed companies. A future where young men and women own mills to grind feed for animals.
- Animal housing must conform to standards prescribed by Government. The Animal and Building Research Institutes are there to offer advice in that regard. I am certain they have done a lot of work already but our failure to support and implement their recommendations make them look as if they have not been discovering any knowledge and you wonder their impact on our society. But for a country that spends just about 0.4% of our GDP on research, who takes the blame, the researchers who receive little support from Government or the politicians who decide that we need more V8 cars and expensively built and hardly accessible websites?
- Overtime, we will not keep cattle for prestige but for business. Cattle owners will realise the need to produce either milk or meat. Then Government makes laws on how to kill and dispose animal. Elsewhere, the farmer cooperatives own slaughter houses. They own large milk processing factories. Imagine the opportunities that come with all these. Imagine the jobs to be created for engineers working with Kantanka, who may be tasked to build milking robots, job for the drivers who will convey the milk to the factories, the food technologists from KNUST, UG and Food Research Institute who will try to develop new products from the milk.
I am wondering if this is wishful thinking, Nana was in UK, so was Mills, our Food and Agriculture Minister has ‘consulting for World Bank’ on his CV. I pray I am not writing only for the archives. Last year, Ken and Yofi witnessed the opening of an American ice-cream franchise in Accra. I said ‘aaaarrrhhh’, ice-cream too, franchise. Well, let us see what this Fulani-cattle-crop farmers’ trouble will do for business development and innovation.
At this point I rest my case. I once read that a good lawyer speaks for 3 minutes and a bad lawyer speaks for 30 minutes. In conclusion, elsewhere the animals live well and big, they do not scratch their bodies on trees or walls because of itchy skin, there is a machine they stand by which robs their body. You should see that, it is fun. Research findings conclude that this improves milk and meat quality. Hehehe. And over here, the animals are killed because the humans taking care of them cannot find the best way to house and feed them. And then it is war. Please when I hear cattle, all I want to associate with it is chichinga, burrrrkina, wagachi, nunu and not clashes, fighting, killing. Aaarhhhhh.
Written by: Eugene Dela Setsoafia