THE LINGERING FARMERS-HERDERS CONFLICT IN THE COUNTRY AND THE IMPACT OF SCARCITY OF MAIZE AND SOYBEAN ON THE POULTRY AND FEED SUBSECTORS
BY PROFESSOR E.A. IYAYI, REGISTRAR/CEO, NIGERIAN INSTITUTE OF ANIMAL SCIENCE
The Nigerian Institute of Animal Science (NIAS) was established by Act No. 26 of 2007 (as Amended 2015). It is a regulatory agency under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development with mandates to regulate all matters pertaining to Animal Husbandry in Nigeria, including the advancement of education, science, technology and the art of animal science and livestock production.
- The Institute’s regulatory functions over the years have no doubt enhanced capacity within the livestock industry with our inclusive method of regulation, as against the stick-wielding approach, which was the initial fear of some practitioners. Our ultimate goal is to guarantee food security and safety and have the Nigerian livestock industry organized, enough for self-regulation in line with global best practices that will leave no breathing space for quackery and adulteration.
- The country has continued to witness an escalation of the conflict between farmers and herders both in intensity and widespread. What started as a dry season phenomenon in some parts of the country has gradually spread to almost all regions with a ferocious intensity bordering on criminality.
- Familiar problems- relating to land and water use, obstruction of traditional migration routes, livestock theft and crop damage- tend to trigger these conflicts. But the causes run deeper mainly as a result of drought, desertification, degraded pastures, dried up natural water sources across Nigeria’s far-northern Sahelian belt and forced large numbers of herders to migrate south in search of grassland and water for their herds. Insecurity consequent upon the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast, banditry and cattle rustling in the north-west and north-central zones have also prompted increasing numbers of herdsmen to migrate south.
- While the government has been trying to resolve the conflicts, they have continued unabated resulting in the loss of lives, displacement, distrust, destruction of properties leading to food insecurity and unemployment.
- Among other solutions being proffered by the government, the Institute strongly advocates the establishment of ranches as a way of resolving the crisis. We must move away from the transhumance mode to the modern and more sustainable ranching method of cattle production.
- Cattle remain a valuable national asset to the country and its production must be sustained.
- The Institute commends the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari in this regard by the establishment of the National Livestock Transformation Plan. The complementary efforts of the Livestock Productivity and Resilience Support (L-PRES) Project of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) supported by the World Bank in this regard are also highly commendable.
- All gazetted grazing reserves (Adamawa, 31; Bauchi 27; Borno 15; Gombe 4; Jigawa 2; Kaduna 2; Kebbi 1; Kogi 1; Kwara 1; Nasarawa 7; Niger 2; Plateau 1; Sokoto 8; Taraba 9; Yobe 17; Zamafara 6, FCT 4 and Oyo 2: 140) plus the ungazetted ones giving a total of about 405 should be transformed to ranches. This has previously been recommended in
POLICY DIALOGUE ON TRANSFORMATION OF GRAZING RESERVES TO RANCHES after a joint meeting with the FAO on April 17, 2017. The Institute reiterates that this policy is adopted immediately.
- The Institute recommends that a Commercial Pasture Production value chain should be established as part of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) and modalities for its operation on a private-sector basis worked out. This should be an attraction to our state government as a means of income generation and employment of youths.
- The Institute recommends that the government should work with the various Chambers of Commerce and Industry in the involvement of the private sector for operationalization of the ranching and commercial pasture projects
- The Institute will be establishing model units at its National Livestock Training Center in Kachia, Kaduna State for the breed improvement of our livestock. We aim to produce more meat and milk on less land towards the overall objective of lesser herd size and more income on less land.
- About 2000 Community Animal Husbandry Officers who are Graduate Animal Scientists will be capacitated in the next three years to join our pool of experts in the Institute in Sustainable Commercial Ranching and Pasture Production.
- The Institute is ready to make its expertise available to the Federal and State Governments in the establishment of ranches and the development of high yielding pasture for cattle production as a measure to solve the lingering conflict.
MAIZE AND SOYBEAN SCARCITY
- Consequent to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disorganized the international supply chain, lingering insecurity in the northeast and north-west, farmers-herders conflicts, and flooding in some grain-producing areas of the country, the livestock industry and particularly the poultry subsector has been hit by maize and soybean scarcity.
- In addition, maize and soybean are being exported leading to local scarcity and price escalation of the two commodities.
- Increasing prices of the 2 essential commodities have resulted in an increase in the price of finished feed by about 75%. This has led to the closure of small and medium-sized poultry farms thereby threatening about 10 million jobs.
- To save the poultry industry from total collapse, the Institute urges the government to immediately halt the exportation of soybean and maize and grant import permits for them at the official rate.
- The Institute is working with critical stakeholders like Feed Industry Practitioners Association of Nigeria (FIPAN), Maize Growers Association and Research Institutes under the Triple Helix Model (Research-Development-Industry) to develop high yielding varieties on less land. The current maize yield of about 1-2 tons/ha cannot sustain our demand for human and livestock consumption. We should be doing up to 7-10 tons/ha.
- The Institute calls on all stakeholders to embrace the measures being put together by the various governments and experts from the Institute to create an enabling environment for the sustained production of our national cattle herd, which is a veritable asset.
Professor Eustace A Iyayi
23 February, 2021