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.
To effectively support livelihoods and to empower communities, UNDP in collaboration with FAO recently conducted a mapping of markets and linkages for fodder and milk with a view into the cultivation of pasture and intensive fodder production integrated with the existing farming systems in Benue and Nasarawa State. The establishment of fodder banks will be accessible to pastoralists and training on pasture and fodder management for community members, particularly youth and women.
The mapping study which was carried out in specifically in the following selected locations in Benue State (Agatu Local Government Area, Guma Local Government Area, Kwande Local Government Area and Logo Local Government Area) and in Nasarawa State (Keana Local Government Area) was primarily to understand issues, actions and to generate information that can be used to strategically promote and build mutually beneficial economic relationships between farmers in Benue state and cattle-herders.
The study was conducted in collaboration with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) with the objectives to (a) understand the livestock sector in the state and fodder production, pasture management, and livestock (dairy) production and marketing; (b) assess the willingness of farmers and herders to build mutually beneficial economic relationships; (c) identify available and local alternative feedstock that can be utilized by cattle herders and (d) identify of off takers for production of fodder by farmers.
Findings from the market mapping will enable UNDP, FAO, UNHCR, government partners, farmers and cattle-herders toestablish market linkages for fodder, milk and other products and explore the opportunity to set up cooperatives that is expected to support economic inter-dependence between farmers and herders in Benue state and beyond. The empirical findings also established that there are strong interests and willingness among farmers in producing fodder for cattle herder’s purchase. 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 reforms in the nation’s livestock sector.
The report made recommendations to utilize findings from the market mapping study to promote economic and social mutual cohesion that addresses on-going farmers-cattle herders’ conflicts in Nigeria; to engage and sensitize farmers and farming communities including IDPs to adopt fodder production by informing then about the profitability and investment opportunities it offers in terms of income and employment generation; train farmers on improved fodder production and specific impactful agronomic practices that directly optimizes their production yield and outputs; develop and promote market-based incentives that encourage and motivate private sector dairy farms in Nigeria to procure fodder produced by local smallholder farmers and facilitate access to improved fodder seeds for smallholder farmers interested and willing to produce fodder.
The mapping exercise was conducted on the platform of the Peace Project (Transitioning from Humanitarian Relief to Long Term Development: Addressing the Herdsmen-Farmers Conflict in Nigeria; a project which is supporting Nigeria’s response to the conflict between herdsmen and farmers in Benue and Nasarawa States