By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja
Herdsmen on the platform of Confederation of Traditional Stockbreeders Organisations in Africa (CORET), have called on the federal government to create a livestock Ministry, seperate from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) to ensure inclusive growth and development of the sector.
This according to them will bring the sector out of the background and allow them benefit from existing programmes.
CORET Program Coordinator, Alhassan Jaoji made the call while fielding questions from Journalist at the 10th Re-source Sustainability Academy which held in Abuja, with the theme” Climate Change, Pastoralism Land and Conflicts”
The academy was organised by the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) in collaboration with CORET,while participants were drawn from herdsmen,farmers, CSOs, Community Leaders, Policy makers and International Organisations among others
According to Mallam Jaoji “There is a need for the creation of a livestock Ministry which is the practice in most parts of the world,If they are not seperated,livestock and fish farming will always be subsumed by crop farmers”
He said ” Here in Nigeria when we say livestock, we do not understand farming to be livestock inclusive,noting that “if they are not seperated the herdsmen will not benefit from various government and international interventions”
In his words “If it is not separated, anytime they want to do any interventions they talk about fertilisers, feeds and machineries,they talk about loans from the World bank to develop farming,but when it is time for implementation,there will be no livestock component totally,that is why I argue that the way it is done with the Fadama Project in the North,it should also be done for livestock”.
The Pastoralist recalled that at the recent 57th Anniversary Presidential speech,there was no mention of livestock despite that the sector contributes11% of the nation’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“Yet a crop like Cashew was mentioned, not even yam. I don’t know where in Nigeria anyone can take cashew and sleep but you can take the beef and milk and sleep. So we see that unless it is unbundled as done in other countries livestock will continue to be at the back ground”
The Herder further advised that existing grazing reserves should be developed with available veterinary services.
Also speaking, HOMEF Director, Nnimmoh Bassey said “Conflicts between herders and farmers are not inevitable. We must agree that this is a recent phenomenon both in Nigeria and other African countries”
He advised that as such ” We have to interrogate the causative factors propelling this unwholesome development, note the economic roots and the role of careless relationship with the earth ,use of symbiotic relationship on animals husbandary and farming where animals help fertilise the soils of fallow land”.
The Environmentalist wondered if climate change escalates,if the movement of herders migration would be the only way to mitigate the impacts and also if the Greater Green Wall project would reverse migration and conflicts”
Participants in a communique at the end of the interactions recommended that the word herdsmen/pastoralist be used instead of Fulani herdsmen to avoid unnecessary stereotyping, re-orientation of pastoralist/ farmers, note that when making policies climate change impacts differently on different categories of people.
Other recommendations advocated more collaboration between Nigeria and developed nations in the fight against climate change, that government carries out livestock development policy reviews to align with regional and international practices as well as avoid the politisation and sensitization of herdsmen/ farmers conflicts amongst others.