Diverse stakeholders gathered in Abuja for a two-day inaugural Policy Dialogue on Crop/Livestock Integration in Nigeria and deliberated to harmonise regional, national and states’ policies on crop and livestock production in Kogi, Benue and Kaduna states.
The Dialogue, was hosted by Synergos Nigeria, a global non-profit organisation that works to deepen trust, through collaborations, to solve complex problems of poverty and create opportunities for individuals and communities to thrive. Stakeholders at the Dialogue involved Crop and Pastoral farmers, Federal policymakers, State policy makers from Kogi, Benue and Kaduna States, Law enforcement officers among other stakeholders on agriculture, land, water resources, environment and gender.
The Dialogue, which took place in Abuja within the week, served to analyse existing policies and build consensus recommendations between the public and private sectors on crop/livestock production. Presentations from Directors of Livestock in the Ministries of Agriculture of Benue, Kaduna and Kogi states framed the contextual policies and efforts aimed at fostering symbiotic relationship between crop and livestock production, and subsequently, curbing incessant clashes between crop farmers and herdsmen.
Representing the Benue State government, Dr. Edward Amali, the Benue State Director of Livestock in the State Ministry of Agriculture told the gathering that the state government is committed to reducing and completely curbing the crisis between the two sectors of agriculture in the state and listed some of the policies made in this direction to include the enactment of the Anti-Open Grazing law, building of three Ranches in the three senatorial zones of the state with a proposal to site another in Makurdi and initiatives that processes cassava wastes into animal feeds.
“Contrary to perceptions in some quarters, the anti-open grazing law was not targeted at any section or persons but for the improvement of relationship between the Fulani herdsmen and indigenous crop farmers and the objective is to create an enabling environment that will provide pasture land for the cattle without destroying the crops of the farmers”
”We believe that if the ranches we have built is embraced under the law, the herdsmen will be issued renewable licenses to operate the ranches and this way, they and their livestock will be protected because government is fully aware of what they do”, Amali explained.
He also disclosed that the state government is supporting cassava farmers by converting the hitherto wastes generated from the product into commercial assets in form of animal feeds which he said “ensures that animal farmers can be in one location and have their feeds, reduce the normadic activities and create jobs for the youths who are now engaged in gathering and processing of the cassava wastes”.
Dr. Mohammed Hussaini, the Kaduna State Director of Livestock, representing Kaduna State, revealed that the state government has proposed to build 12 Grazing Reserves with five fully operational at the moment. Of significance is his disclosure that “the grazing reserves are one stop centers for modernized agriculture with public health centers, schools for children of Pastoral farmers, pasture production, improved milk production and sales as well as amenities such as pipe borne water and electricity”. He said the biggest of this is in Kachia which is the model that others will be modelled after.
According to Hussaini, towards improved quality of livestock, the state plans to purchase and distribute 1000 cows to pastoralists for rearing in the reserves and they would be trained in modern and hygienic methods of milk production while at the same time ensuring that the produce are properly packaged and bought from them. He also said the state was embarking on tracing of the grazing routes with a view avoid the present difficulties arising from population growth.
Shaibu Oseni, the Kogi State Director of Livestock, speaking on behalf of Kogi State government, reiterated that the state has created grazing reserves and formulated a ranching policy which requires the state government to provide grazing reserves for private investors to establish ranches. He said a peace commission has been set up with a senior aide of the governor at the head and comprising all the divisional police officers, traditional rulers and community representatives.
On behalf of the Federal Government, Dr. Andrew Kwasari, Technical Adviser to the Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, praised Synergos’ initiatives on the research and pilot in three States on crop and livestock integration. He noted that the 10 year pastoral plan by the Federal government is being perfected, and Synergos’ contribution to the policy has been immense.
Victor Adejoh, Senior Field Manager at Synergos representing the Country Director, Adewale Ajadi, in his welcome address to participants established the trust and collaboration Synergos has developed with pastoralists, farmers, states and federal government agencies towards articulating, reviewing and implementing policies for improved agriculture production.
“Synergos’ pilot interventions for controlled grazing adopts an integrated crop-livestock production system that will lead to increased capacity and market linkages for enhanced symbiotic productivity and effective peace and conflict resolution mechanisms practiced by pastoralists and farmers. The proposed intervention is expected to contribute in providing practical experiences that will key into the ten-year strategic intervention plan of the Federal Government of Nigeria, as articulated in the National Livestock Transformation Programme of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture”, Adejoh stated.
Synergos is a global non-profit organization that helps solve the complex problems of poverty and inequality by promoting and supporting collaborations among business, government, civil society, and marginalized communities. The SPA is funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation