The age long farmer-herder crisis in Nigeria can no longer be overlooked, as it affects the stability of the country. In the last few years, the tension has increased, leading to loss of property, livelihood, and lives. Thus, there is a need to offer a way forward to salvage the situation at hand.

First, we need a national orientation program to sensitise people on new approaches to do business, especially cattle grazing. (It is not sustainable and population explosion is a key factor) This program should target primarily herders and other key stakeholders in the cattle value chain (including cattle owners).

We need a united country to build a sustainable growth
Secondly, encouraging the establishment of private ranches across the country would really be of great benefit. Government should implement policies that strengthen the cattle value chain, especially establishment of ranches to encourage investors. This can be achieved through tax exemption, subsidies, and import waivers for livestock equipment, amongst others.

Thirdly, every herder outside the country should be mandated to register and be licensed to graze in Nigeria. As much as I don't support open grazing, it may take up to 20 years to phase this practise out completely. So, the government should put structures in place to register herders (especially foreigners).

Lastly, there is no fit-for-all solution, and every state should come up with a blueprint that will help to curb the tension that has been created. Yes, we need a united country to build a sustainable growth. We need peace to build the agricultural sector and protect the lives of every one to achieve food security.



A tractor on a Nigerian crop farm in Kano State.

Milk is stored and delivered in containers such as these.

Agrobiologist and agronomist Henk Breman, who worked in subsahara Africa for many years, on herders and food security in Africa (in French)