Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Article: The Untapped Cattle Rearing Business In Southern Nigeria

By Livy-Elcon Emereonye

There may be different reasons to raise cattle. For instance, some people raise large herds to sell, others, in the case of dairy, raise them to sell their milk. Some other people raise cattle to show in fairs and other local events including religious purposes and burial rites. In today's economy, especially in Nigeria, many families are deciding to raise cattle for their personal use. Whether one wants to have a few heads for one’s family's needs or raise a herd to sell, there are a few basics about how to raise healthy cattle for profitability which range from acquiring land to selecting the cattle one would want to raise.

This write up will focus on the business angle of raising cattle (large and small scale) in southern Nigeria for wealth creation, employment opportunity, public health promotion and prevention of attacks by nomadic “herdsmen” in local communities.

It would be recalled that there have been endless clashes between nomadic herdsmen and some host communities, resulting in wanton destruction of property and heartless killing of people as result of which many approaches including the call for boycott of beef had been advocated to curtail and possibly prevent recurrence of such barbaric acts. But how many people can really stay without beef except on serious health grounds? In absence of beef, what alternatives are available and at what cost, bearing in mind the poverty level in the country, some people’s priorities and purchasing power?

In attempt to answer some of the questions, the idea of rearing cattle massively in southern Nigeria by southerners come up as a more practical approach towards tackling the menace of militant herdsmen – and this is doable. Yes, with good education, proper orientation and grass-root mobilization, many people and indeed many families, firms, organizations and cooperative societies can rear cattle mechanically or otherwise in southern Nigeria like what happens with goat, sheep, dog and fowl… Those with the resources can set up mechanized ranches.
Business wise, cattle rearing/selling is a very lucrative business that is currently not taxed or under taxed by the government. It is a multi-billion naira business that has not been fully harnessed and explored for profitability and return on investment. This goldmine must be explored for optimal result.

The scenario below, by a concerned citizen using Imo State as a case study is a very useful insight. Responding to “Think Home Initiative” call, Romson Udo wrote: “Thanks for posting this reorientation alarm. It is what I call the external threat to development of Igbo land.

The internal threat variable is even more frightening. Every week, ten thousand cows are slaughtered and consumed in Imo state. All are purchased directly from northern cattle traders. At an average cost of one hundred and fifty thousand naira (N150, 00:00) each which amounts to N1.5billion per week, N6billion per month and N60billion per year? These same traders also command goat, ram and vegetables supply worth another N40b per annum. I call it capital milking of Igbo land by the northerners who in the course of this trade would never rent a house or hotel room nor buy any Imo produced product.

The economic folly of this is the consistent flight of capital that should have developed industrial base, infrastructure and jobs in Imo state seamlessly. The same patterns of deliberate capital milking have been running through all the five Igbo states in the past three decades. This economic circle has become so entrenched because the Igbo states have become entirely dependent on the north for staple food. Should the north cut off the supplies for just one month, Igbo land will be in food crisis! Yet Igbo governors, Ohanaeze and Igbo business leaders fail to see the strategic threat of this consumption pattern not to talk of checking it.

The Igbo governors and other blind leaders should open their eyes and see that what they get from federal allocation with the right hand they give back wholly to the northern cattle traders each month thereby running a vicious circle of poverty.

Why haven't the Igbo business men seen a begging N500billion meat and vegetable market in their home? Why is a trillion naira/year food market in Igbo land not being organized by our ever talking wise leaders?”

The above scenario which replicates virtually in all the states in southern Nigeria is a good catalyst to provoke discussion and timely action to looking at what it takes to rear cattle, putting into consideration the favourable climatic conditions with the rich topographical and agricultural blessings of this part of the world.

The business of rearing (buying and selling cattle) is considerably a lucrative one. Depending on fund and the reason for the venture, it can be done on a small, medium or large scale bases. A cattle buyer looks only for the healthiest ones, while a seller wants to make sure that he gets the best prices for the ones he's selling.

Therefore, the first step to start cattle business is to have a good business plan with a detailed SWOT analysis, bearing in mind that it would be better to start small and then expand. Like every other business, there would be challenges but the good news is that they are surmountable. If some people can trek from northern Sahara to southern Savannah for cattle, facing all the risk along the way then doing the business in a more civilized ways in an enclosed setting would be more fun, safe and profitable. Again, there is little or no tax associated with this type of business today instead there are more chances and good opportunities to obtain low interest loan and  even grant to support the business.

Whether mechanized or not, the cattle business is a goldmine people in every region in Nigeria especially the southern Nigeria must explore for safety purposes, security reasons, job creation and profitability  – and the earlier this is done, the better. Good enough, a comprehensive business plan for this could be provided on a request.

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