A report by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) recently said that Nigeria loses more than13.7 billion dollars (about N2.3 trillion) annually to conflicts among herdsmen and farmers in various communities of Nigeria is worrisome.
Mercy Corps, a global humanitarian aid agency that presented the report recently in Abuja has been supporting communities to resolve conflicts and in strengthening governance, among other humanitarian services since 2012.
“The growth of Africa’s largest economy is being stymied by decades-long disputes between farmers and pastoralists in Nigeria’s ethnically and religiously diverse nation,’’ the report stated.
Furthermore, the report noted that Nigeria will gain more than 13.7 billion dollars annually in total macro-economic progress if peace is maintained in Benue, Kaduna State, Nasarawa State and Plateau alone.
Analysts observe that feuds among Nigeria’s famers and herdsmen usually arise from disputes over the use of resources such as farmland, grazing areas and water.
According to them, Nigerians must collectively resolve to tackle the challenge with utmost sincerity of purpose and patriotism.
Mercy Corps Country Director in Nigeria Iveta Ouvry said that the study also examined the effects of conflict on peace, national and state revenues and household economics.
“The findings suggest that the peace building efforts at the local level are limited and in many cases, counter-productive to long-term growth.
“Nigerian government and international donors should quickly increase investment to resolve inter-communal clashes in Nigeria and ensure conflict management and livelihood development strategies,
“Effective conflict management programming can yield high financial returns to donors and governments, with peace dividends more than covering programme cost,’’ Ouvry said.
Mercy Corps also recommended the establishment of grazing reserves to check the protracted feuds among farmers and herdsmen.
Mr Mohammed Tukur, a member of the corps steering committee, observed that the establishment of grazing reserves would restrict cattle to graze in particular areas to avert feuds.
He recommended that the government should strengthen the nation’s conflicts resolution mechanisms.
Tukur identified community, religious and opinion leaders as the first port of call in the outbreak of conflicts among farmers and herdsmen in rural communities.
He explained that there was the need for community engagements to provide ways of resolving such conflicts to pave way for mutual understanding among feuding parties.
In the light of these suggestions, the House of Representatives recently invited all stakeholders to a public hearing to address what it described as ‘incessant clashes between herdsmen, farmers and their host communities’..
On the sideline of the hearing, Mr Edwards Mba said, “So much can be achieved in arresting the clashes and diversifying the economy if we can bring in modern fodder (livestock feeds) production techniques into the sector.’’
Mba, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Fodder Green Technology Ltd., called for partnership with government at all levels to adopt Fodder Solutions.
According to him, Fodder Solutions is a livestock feed production technology capable of addressing the challenge of cattle moving round the states in search of feeds.
He said that although the technology was new in Nigeria, it had been in use in Australia and other parts of the world.
“Fodder Solutions is a climate controlled growing system that guarantees daily production of cost effective and highly nutritious fresh livestock feeds.
“The system involves a versatile and international hydroponic growing room where grasses are grown and harvested within six days.
“This may sound impossible but the technology has been tested and successfully used in several countries. Why not in Nigeria?
“Fodder Solutions uses water and nutrients to produce highly nutritious forage from maize, millet, sorghum, barley and oath seeds, among others,’’ he said.
He further explained that with Fodder Solutions, livestock feeds are grown and harvested without soil, sunlight, chemicals, fertiliser and farm machinery.
“Animals kept in a particular area without having to go round looking for grasses to feed tend to produce more milk and meat.
“It is therefore time to take a holistic approach in solving these challenges with this new technology for the betterment of the agricultural sector in the country,’’ he said.
He said that his company would organise a workshop between May 19 and May 20 at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, to train stakeholders in the agricultural sector on the application of the technology.
He said the workshop would draw participants from Australia and some other parts of Africa who would share their experiences on the success of Fodder Solutions.
Concerned by frequent cases of herdsmen-farmers clash, Federal Government says it is exploring the implementation of a definitive policy that will involve all stakeholders and security agents to address the challenge.
Minister of Interior retired Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau decried the lingering crises along the Niger-Benue river basin axis.
Speaking at the opening of a strategic stakeholders meeting on the pastoralist-sedentary farmer conflict in Nigeria, he warned that the crises were a threat to national peace.
“The effect of this conflict has been loss of life, dislocation of people and communities and the disruption of socio economic activity.
“Even more importantly, it is a threat to the integrity and peaceful coexistence of the Nigerian state.
“The objective therefore is to identify any laws and regulations that impact on the conflict, this will in turn inform the design of a definitive policy intervention,’’ he said.
Dambazau, who directed the meeting, said that the meeting would review recommendations of past committee reports on the issue, security investigations and deliberate on new strategy to address the menace.
The minister said that the government would also address the issues such as herdsmen migrating from outside the country.
Irrespective of various measures aimed at averting future crisis, stakeholders at the meeting resolved to outline a tentative cocktail of strategies to deal with conflicts.
The meeting noted the significance of the Niger-Benue basin for various agricultural activities attracting both pastoralists and sedentary farmers.
It observed the existence of a number of duly enacted national laws and policies and regional protocols, which were not implemented.
The meeting, therefore, affirmed that authorities should develop an intervention to promote dialogue and sustainable solutions.
By and large, concerned citizens urge Nigerians to always demonstrate understanding, love, tolerance, accommodation, perseverance and patriotism to eliminate communal conflicts and develop the nation.