Synergos Nigeria, an international non-profit organisation, says it will partner with the Federal Government to design a comprehensive development strategy for controlled cattle grazing in the country.
Dr Aminu Abba, a Consultant of Synergos, said this in Lokoja at a validation workshop on Controlled Grazing, organised by Synergos for security agencies, farmers, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association and other stakeholders.
He said that Synergos had discovered that a major challenge facing efforts to find a permanent solution to farmers-herdsmen conflicts in the country was the absence of a national development plan on pastoralism.
He noted that the last effort to have any form of plan for the pastoral sector was the limited intervention by the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF) between 1996 and 1998.
“There is, therefore, the need for the Federal Government to design a comprehensive development plan and strategy that would lead to the transformation of the country’s livestock industry into a viable sector.
“We are suggesting three interventions or models as comprehensive development plan and strategy at the national level which will of course affect the states.
“The first is to develop existing grazing reserves.
“The second is the establishment of ranches which are highly technical modern farms for large-scale pastoralists who have up to 10,000 or 20,000 heads of cattle and who can finance them with government assistance.
“The third is agro-pastoralism whereby the pastoralists will settle in agro-pastoral communities, similar to what the Federal Government is referring to as cattle colonies,’’ he said.
Abba said that the strategy would entail the establishment of integrated settlements to bring pastoralists and farmers together, while encouraging sedentary lifestyle among them for integrated crop-livestock production.
He said that the venture would strive to create harmonious farmers-herdsmen relationships, while forestalling conflicts between herdsmen and farmers.
He said that the strategy would push for gradual injection of modernisation processes into traditional livestock production systems, while promoting policy interventions and conflict reduction.
Also speaking, Ms Victoria Fajemilehin, a Synergos Programmes Coordinator, said that the workshop was designed to proffer short-term, medium-term and long-term solutions to the incessant farmers-herdsmen clashes.
Fajemilehin described the recurrent clashes between pastoralists and farmers as a resource problem.
“It has become a resource and orientation problem because they have to scramble for scarce land, pasture and water,’’ she said.
Herdsmen at the workshop, in their submissions, said that although they subscribed to controlled grazing, it should be a gradual process