Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Against the backdrop of incessant cases of rape, killings in the farm and clashes between local and Fulani herdsmen across different parts of the southeast, more entrepreneurs are getting involved in producing ‘local’ breed of cow known as Efi Igbo.
Eagle Farms Limited, Umuchu and Wonder Farms, Umunze, in Aguata and Orumba South Local Government Areas, respectively of Anambra state, are two places already deeply involved in livestock development.
Recently, the Managing Director of Eagle Farms, Prince Ugochukwu Okpaleke stormed the Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka, venue of the flag off of the 2019 farming season with fully grown Igbo species cows bred in his farm.
Both farms, Daily Sun gathered, had commenced the crossbreeding of Efi Igbo with the Hausa species for the production of large size cattle for increased meat demands.
The latest effort in this direction from Anambra state is the multi-million naira Nkeonyemetalu Farms and Agro-Allied Ventures located at Amaetiti, Orumba North Local Government Area.
The fully mechanised farm sitting on about 200 plots of land has gone into full cattle ranching of local cattle.
Chairman of the farms, High Chief Walter Chigbo recently played host to members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Anambra State council, who were on a one day working visit.
Conducting his visitors round the farms, Chigbo confirmed that ranching is a more profitable way of rearing cattle, pointing out that the Fulani herdsmen who engage in nomadic method of rearing cows do so out of ignorance.
His words: “The Fulani herdsmen either do not know that it is more profitable to rear cattle in a secluded place, or they have become used to be nomads and cannot adjust.
Here, we have a good number of cows including the native cows which we call ‘efi Igbo’, and you will compare them with the ones you see the Fulani people walking about with.
“Study has shown that it is better to rear cattle in a secluded place. Feed them well, and they rest well too, and before long, you will see how fat they will grow.
“In United Arab Emirate where I did a study, I saw a cow that is so big that this house cannot contain it. Such cows, you can get two drums of milk daily from it, but if they were to be taking the cow about on foot to feed it, you would see how tired it would look, and that will affect its size too.”
He disclosed of plans to expand the ranch in order to get the best from the animals, and charged the Federal Government to call for ranching rather than encourage open grazing. Since livestock production was a private business, he advised that herders should also be encouraged to buy land for construction of ranches in order to minimize conflicts between them and farmers: “Most of the richest people across the world are farmers, so herdsmen should also be encouraged to get land and ranch their cows as this will put an end to the constant clashes between farmers and herdsmen”.
Chairman of the council, who led the NUJ team, Comrade Emmanuel Ifesinachi, Secretary, Emma Udeagha and other members of the contingent were shocked to see first-hand the ranch with both efi Igbo and cross breed cows, the poultry section with over thirty thousand birds and the fish ponds said to house over one hundred and fifty six thousand cat fish.
The team also went to the piggery section, the plantain, pineapple, pawpaw and sugar cane plantations, as well as facilities for frozen fish and foods business including the dry fish processing section.
Earlier, Ifesinachi had commended High Chief Chigbo for his foresight in investing over N500m in agriculture; thereby creating employment for many and also boosting food sufficiency in the state.
The NUJ Chairman stressed the need to boost agricultural development by encouraging small, medium and large scale farmers in the country, through provision of credit facilities, access roads, electricity and pipe borne water, noting that lack of electricity and access road, were the greatest challenge of the farm.
Also, Special Assistant to the Anambra state Governor on Agriculture, Cyril Nwobu, reassured that the administration Chief Willie Obiano would continue to do its best in making agriculture the major source of revenue generation and in turn improve the living standard of Ndi Anambra.