From: Azeez Ibrahim, Abuja
In response to the continuous clashes between farmers and herdsmen around the country, experts from the academic on Monday recommended the establishment of integrated farm settlements to end the crisis.
The proposed recommendations came from a study conducted by three university researchers to inquire the causes and proffer sustainable solutions to the lingering problem.
The experts from the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta and Bayero University Kano during a validation workshop on controlled grazing, organized by Synergos in Abuja tasked the federal government to develop National Development Plan on Livestock.
They said aside from reviving the abandoned grazing reserves and establishment of ranches, the new scheme is capable of providing lasting and sustainable solution to the crisis between farmers and herders.
Prof. Olufemi Onifade from Department of Pasture and Range Management, FUNAB disclosed that based on the study to “Support and Inform Development, Review and Implementation of Controlled Grazing Policy” conducted in Benue, Kaduna and Kogi states, both farmers and pastoralists agreed to embrace the new scheme.
Onifade explained that establishment of integrated settlement will increase farmers’ income, herdsmen earnings, reduce conflicts and strengthen mutual interactions.
The most recent attack in the series of communal violence between herdsmen and farmers was the Zamfara killings which claimed scores of lives.
He blamed poor governance and community participation, weak policies and legislations including ineffective intercommunity relations and dispute resolutions for the causes of violent conflicts between the groups and sighted engagements with political, traditional and religious leaders in the affected states as a way forward towards achieving peace.
As part of recommendations from the study, he advised the Federal Government to initiate a National Pastoral Development Plan and Strategy such that will enable farmers and pastoralists to easily access land in peaceful and acceptable manner.
The recommendations include: “provision of framework to ensure quality education is offered to rural populations of pastoralists and farmers as a strategy to building human resources for sustainable development.
“The management of extreme environmental shocks and other changes such as drought, land degradation, overgrazing and climate change and its associated effects
“The need to take cognizance of regional policies and framework for cooperation such as African Union (AU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations Charter and conventions so as to factor pastoral groups from other countries, especially at the border areas of Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroun Republics”.
In response to calls for cattle colony, Onifade advised that since peculiarities varies from state to state the federal should allow government to allow individual states to determine their best approach to tackling the situation.
He noted that State which prefers ranches should be encouraged while States with abundant land could adopt cattle colony.
Prof. Abba Aminu from the Department of Agriculture Economics and Extension BUK, however remarked that the recommendations, when adopted will largely benefit both herdsmen and farmers.
According to him, livestock farmers can graze on uncultivated marginal fields during wet season while the pastoralist graze freely on harvested fields.
However, he noted that communities in Kogi and Kaduna where the studies were conducted largely accepted the initiative except for Benue State.
Synergos Country Director, Adewale Ajadi urged the media to avoid giving report that will futher excalate crisis instead promote fair and objective reportage sensitive issues especially relating to the communal crisis.