STAKEHOLDERS in the agriculture, security and development sectors have called for deliberate and sustained commitments to address the farmers-herders crisis ravaging the country.
The experts who expressed concerns that the crisis has gradually been transiting into banditry spoke at a knowledge-sharing event organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Friday in Abuja.
Idayat Hassan, CDD’s Director said the situation could be addressed through effective implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) through partnership with the locals, Civil Society Organisations and other relevant organisations.
She identified the fight for natural resources control such as water, climate change and other economic challenges as some of the contending issues exacerbating the farmers-herders crisis.
“For instance, as CSOs, we are to provide support to the government and one of the key things which we think is quite important is for people to be aware of this because the implementation cannot be done in isolation of people who are the direct beneficiaries of such interventions…,” Hassan, who was represented by Yusuf Shamsudeen, the Centre’s Principal Programme Officer stated.
“We cannot also do that without understanding the emerging concerns to farmers’/herders’ conflict in the country. So, one of the key things is that it’s important for us to dwell more on how to bring socio-coherence among these people because they need to work together for a common aim and we cannot do that without the need to address the differences between them.”
The NLTP was inaugurated last year September by the vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo to support the livestock sector and seek to end the crisis between farmers and herders in the country. Between 2017 to 2018, the Nigeria Crisis Group reported at least 1, 500 deaths as a result of the crisis and about 300, 000 others displaced in four states of Nasarawa, Benue, Plateau and Taraba.
The N100 billion initiative was to be piloted in seven states including Benue, Kaduna, Adamawa, Plateau, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara but it is not restricted to cattle but the entire animal husbandry.
“It is a plan that hopes to birth tailor-made ranches where cattle are bred, and meat and dairy products are produced using modern livestock breeding and dairy methods,” Osinbajo disclosed at the project launch.
“This solves the problem of cattle grazing into and destroying farmlands. It ensures a practical response to the pressures on water and pasture by forces of climate change.”
The special adviser to the president on agriculture and coordinator, NLTP, Andrew Kwasari, however, said the meeting was to take stock of achievements and way forward in addressing the conflicts.
Kwasari said there are security, livelihood, and relationship issues hampering the farmers’ and herders’ conflict resolutions.
“If you deal with livelihood issues, you are also dealing with security issues and when you deal with security issues you are also addressing more fundamental issues that affect the Nigeria economy,” Kwasari said.
He also noted the major thing to do is figure out what every stakeholder is doing in terms of intervention and find a common ground outside the government and CSOs to adopt.
Chris Kwaja of the Centre for Peace and Security Studies at the Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola said, so far, 19 northern governors have committed to resolving conflicts between the farmers and herders in line with the NLTP.
According to him, the state governments found the locations they preferred within the grazing reserves and were willing to remodel it as areas for livestock production.
“Almost all the governors believe in the NLTP and they know that because it allows them to implement in line with the realities of their own situations so there is no one size that fits every state,” he noted.
Other participants at the event include representatives from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), the Forum for Farmers and Herders Relations in Nigeria (FFARN), and the NLTP.