The competition for scarce resources between farmers and herders has had devastating impacts on communities in Nigeria’s Middle-Belt region. These disputes stem from the struggle for the use and management of resources including water, land, crops, livestock, and grazing routes. The conflict has resulted in the loss of lives and property, as well as the displacement and disenfranchisement of many.
The UN in Nigeria, with support from the Secretary General’s Peace building Fund, is addressing the crisis by supporting Nigeria’s response to the conflict between farmers and herders. The targeted states include Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba.
Cross-Section of Cattle Herder Elders in Nasarawa State
To foster peaceful coexistence through the promotion of economic opportunities for communities, UNDP and FAO conducted a comprehensive mapping of markets and linkages for fodder and milk in Benue and Nasarawa states between December 2019 and March 2020. With support from the Human Security Trust Fund, the mapping study was carried out in Agatu, Guma, Kwande and Logo local government areas of Benue State, as well as Keana local government area of Nasarawa State. Findings from the map-ping help to give greater insight to the underlying issues and actions, and to generate information which will be used to strategically promote and build mutually beneficial economic relation-ships between farmers and herders.
The findings from the market mapping also provide opportunities through which the UN can strengthen its support to government and partners, as well as establish market linkages for fodder, milk and other products for farmers and herders. The linkages will provide an opportunity to set up cooperatives which will support economic interdependence between farmers and herders in the target states.
The empirical findings have also established that there are strong interests and willingness among farmers to produce fodder for cattle herders’ purchase. The incentives that will motivate them to produce fodder are better prices, access to market and access to production. Furthermore, the demand for fodder is expected to increase in view of the emerging and rising demand for animal protein, beef and dairy milk products which is orchestrated by an increasing population growth and recent policy re-forms in the nation’s livestock sector.
The Peace building project puts forward key recommendations from the market mapping study in the promotion of economic and social cohesion between farmers and herders. This will be achieved through various strategies including the sensitization of farmers and internally displaced persons to adopt fodder production by educating them on the profitability and investment opportunities; training farmers on improved fodder production and specific impactful agronomic practices that directly optimize their production yield and outputs; developing and promoting market-based incentives that encourage and motivate private sector dairy farms in Nigeria to procure fodder produced by local smallholder farmers; and facilitating access to improved fodder seeds for smallholder farmers interested and willing to produce fodder.
To ensure that the two main target populations are adequately captured, key interventions such as the establishment of fodder banks will be made accessible to pastoralists. Key groups including youth and women will be trained on pasture and fodder management for community members. The targeted initiatives focus on livelihood and the empowerment of community members by promoting farming, livestock activities and establishing synergies be-tween these industries.
Source: UN Nigeria Newsletter – April 2020 Edition.