The Socio Economic Effects Of Grazing Reserve In Nigeria


Right from time, Fulani herdsmen (pastoralists) and farmers in northern and southern Nigeria have been living symbiotically together in communities. But over time, the mutual relationship between the pastoralists and farmers deteriorated, leading to incessant conflicts over land for livestock and agricultural crops respectively. Though, these conflicts have been an old age problem, but it has escalated in the last decade and has assumed a very deadly dimension. These clashes between the two parties has often led to loss of lives and property in affected communities. These conflicts can be said to be embedded in and aggravated by the increasing competition for land as a result of population growth, land scarcity, and a new solvency due to income earned outside agriculture (Gefu and Gilles, 1990; Fraser, 1997). Many factors have contributed in one way or the other over time to severe the peaceful coexistence that once existed between Fulani pastoralists and the farming communities.
Tenuche and Ifatimehin (2009) noted that according to other literatures, the incessant resource conflicts between farmers and herdsmen witnessed in the tropics have usually resulted in loss of lives, property and environmental degradation as also witnessed in some developed countries such as Balkans (Hellstrom, 2001; Niemella et al., 2005). The Fulani herdsmen have borne a large proportion of the blame for most conflict and environmental degradation in policy statements in the Guinea Savannah region of West African states (Thebaud and Batterburry, 2001). The production potential of grassland and livestock in the arid and semi-arid region of Africa is constrained by low and variable rainfall (Thebaud and Batterbury, 2001; Ifatimehin, 2008). Therefore, there is a need for grazing lands so as to enable accessibility of pasture resources across regions by pastoralists and their livestock in order to ensure food security for the herds.
Of important note is the fact that in the past, cattle rearing was mainly prevalent in the Sudan and Sahel savanna belts where crop production by the farmers was carried out only during the short rainy season on a small scale. This gave the herdsmen access to a vast area of grass land for their livestock. But as time went on, and with the introduction of irrigated farming in the savanna belt of Nigeria, and the increased withering of pasture during the dry season, less pasture was available to the livestock. The herdsmen had to move southward from the Sahel regions to sub-humid zones like Kaduna and Niger, where the rainy season is longer, the temperature is moderate and the soil retains moisture for long, in search of pasture and water – a movement called transhumance (Ofuoku and Isife, 2009). They found more comfort in croplands and thus encroaching into the farmlands and thus, displeasing the farmers who retaliate.
Furthermore, Tonah (2006) opined that factors that account for the increasing farmer-herder conflict over time include the southward movement of pastoral herds into the humid and sub-humid zones, promoted by the successful control of animal diseases in these areas, the widespread availability of veterinary medicine and the expansion of farming activities into areas that hitherto served as pastureland. Also, the growth in population and its density has led to urbanization with an increased demand for land and pressure on land meant for farming and grazing in the past. This gave rise to an increased pressure on natural resources and a stiff competition for available resources between farmers and herders (Adebayo, 1997; Breuser et al. 1998).
Other factors that have contributed to the breakdown of the peaceful coexistence of farmers and pastoralists in Nigeria include: inadequacy of grazing resources, as increasing crop cultivation (and increasing commercialization of the crop-residues) and poor management of the existing grazing reserves have resulted in a significant reduction in available livestock feed resources, in particular in the northern states. Moreover the high-yield crops introduced by agricultural research institutions (e.g. tomatoes and onions) produce almost no crop-residues for livestock feeding. Also, the regulation that twenty percent of the fadama (irrigated farmlands) would need to be set aside for grazing (National Agricultural Policy, 1988) has not been adhered to; and then, the decline in internal discipline and social cohesion, as the adherence to the traditional rules regarding grazing periods, and the authority of the traditional rulers is breaking down (Adisa, 2012).
According to Ajuwon (2004), other factors that have contributed in the long-term to this farmers-pastoralists strife include:

  1. Inappropriate Land tenure and land use practices whereby traditional access rights to communal grazing and water resources are being obstructed by the individual tenureship of arable farmers.
  2. Non-observation of rules and regulations regarding dry season farming and grazing
  • Inadequacy and the poor state of the existing grazing reserves as they have been encroached for farming activities.
  1. Blockage and use of stock routes by farmers and individuals due to its fertility, leading to reduction in the size of these routes.
  2. Poor land and soil conservation measures, limiting the areas available for operations by the farmers and pastoralists. Whatever the causes of farmer-herdsmen conflicts are, it is evident that the conflicts have been of great negative effects. These range from economic effects such as loss of income/resources/yield, to physical effects such as home/farm destruction, bodily injury or death of family members and socio-psychological effects such as emotional exhaustion and job dissatisfaction.

In order to curb all of the aforementioned problems which have jointly been responsible for deadly clashes between the farmers and herdsmen, there is a need to settle pastoralists permanently on government-assigned and delineated lands called grazing reserves. Ismail (2013) rightly noted that grazing reserves and stock routes top the list of Fulani pastoralists‟ demands from the Nigerian government. It is believed that the creation, development and expansion of grazing reserves and the proper mapping of stock routes will boost livestock population, will lessen the difficulty of herding, will reduce seasonal migration, and will enhance symbiotic interaction among farmers, pastoralists, and rural dwellers. In creating and developing grazing reserves across conflict-ridden zones in Nigeria, it is important to establish them at sites with optimum comfort for the herders, their livestock and the surrounding communities. Here, suitability mapping using Multicriteria Evaluation (MCE) technique in GIS environment comes into play to ensure that the most suitable sites are set aside for these grazing reserves taking into consideration various biophysical, socioeconomic and environmental factors.
Grazing reserves are areas of land dedicated or set aside for pastoral use and they are considered as proven self-sustaining solution for pastoralists. A grazing reserve can also be said to be a piece of land that the government acquires, develops, and releases to the pastoral Fulani. It is a tract of land specially set aside by governments for use by herders or pastoralists to hold and graze their cattle. Ingawa et al. (1989) defined grazing reserves in Nigeria as areas set aside for the use of pastoralists and are intended to be the foci of livestock development. Grazing reserves resemble group ranches in that both of them consist of clearly defined areas of rangeland which provides grazing for determined herds of livestock. On group ranches in Kenya, pastoralists have a right to land under national law. In Nigeria, they have not in the past had such rights and grazing reserves more closely resemble what Oxby (l982a) termed ‘grazing blocks’. There are now plans for issuing 30 year leases for parcels of land within the grazing reserves in order to encourage them to invest in land improvement.
Some state and local governments in Nigeria have gazetted and obtained grazing land varying in size. The federal government shoulders seventy percent (70%) of the burden of developing the grazing reserves, the state governments shoulder twenty percent (20%) while the local governments carry 10% of the responsibilities and gives each settler on the reserve a piece of land. Depending on the herd size and the carrying capacity of the land, the settler pays an annual rent to the government (Suleiman, 1986).
Suleiman (1986) also noted that the stated purpose of Grazing Reserves is the settlement of nomadic pastoralists; they offer security of tenure as an inducement to sedenterization through the provision of land for grazing and permanent water. Large parcels of land have been demarcated, some legally sanctioned by order in the Official Gazette and basic infrastructure such as dams and boreholes have been constructed on these lands. Potential settlers are recruited through the livestock extension service.
In recent years, Nigeria has witnessed series of violent communal clashes arising from the activities of the nomads who move about on a daily basis with their cattle in search of water and green pastures.
According to Ismail (2013), these pastoralists and their livestock are on the streets in most of our cities and could also be found operating in the remotest villages in various states of the country. Roaming cows, sheep, and goats scavenging around school play grounds, golf courses, government residential areas, street shoulders, and railway sidings are a common sight in the cities due to pasture scarcity. These beasts obstruct traffic flow, endanger street users, amplify urban congestion and often have their excrement littering the ground. What has informed the couching of the idea of establishing grazing reserves is the incessant clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in many parts of the country especially in states such as Kogi, Plateau, Benue, Niger, Nasarawa, the southern half of Kaduna and Bauchi.
There has been growing concern in various parts of the country about the increased conflicts between farmers and pastoralists. Tenuche and Ifatimehin (2009) in their research: “Resource Conflict among Farmers and Fulani Herdsmen: Implications for Resource Sustainability” describe the traditional relationship between farmers and Fulani herdsmen and the incessant resource conflict witnessed in Kogi State and how it affects livelihood and security of those involved and resource sustainability for the communities. They noted that these conflicts are most responsible for the unsustainable utilization of land and water resources as the trampling by the hooves of herds of cattle compacts the soil of farm land, destroy farm crops by the herdsmen, places restraint on effective utilization of arable farmland among other destruction of available resources. The scenario witnessed in Kogi state is a replication of what is happening in Kaduna, Niger states and other parts of the country. As grazing pasture shrinks, disputes have increased, particularly in the far north during the May to September rainy season, when herds invade farmland and eat crops. Therefore, the development of the grazing reserves and livestock routes has become imperative to avoid conflicts between pastoralists and farmers.
Two days of fighting between farmers and nomads in June, 2009 left three dead and a number of pastoralists‟ settlements burned in Plateau state. Local authorities expelled 700 pastoralists from Borno state in the northeast to stop clashes between settling nomads and indigenous farmers. The nomads had travelled 1,000km eastwards from Zamfara state in search of grazing land. Moreover, the livelihood of over 15 million pastoralists in northern Nigeria are threatened by decreasing access to water and pasture shortages linked to climate change.
The required change in perspective and problems described above requires new technical tools and planning strategies, grazing sites suitability mapping in GIS being one of the techniques for this change. The problem currently at hand include the resolution of conflicts between the multiple and diverse potential users of resources and the expectations to conserve resources that have been transformed and developed in the past.
Awogbade‟s (1987) opinion is that, there can be no solution to the intractable strife between pastoralists and farmers so long as the problems of grazing land use are not addressed. The issue of settling nomadic cattle rearers is a problem which for many years now has generated considerable discussion in Nigeria‟s public and government circles.
In Mediterranean regions for example, grazing activities frequently involve protected areas, either because they are permanently settled there or because they exploit pasture resources seasonally. The latter occurs owing to the presence of numerous extensive cattle and sheep farms that, following a very old and deep-rooted tradition, still today practice transhumance and migration to mountain pasture, with significant movements both in terms of the distances undertaken (at times even some hundreds of kilometers) aswell as changes in altitude. It is high time this plan is also adopted efficiently in Nigeria. Most often, the grazing of domestic animals within protected areas is not conducted in an appropriate fashion and comes into conflict with the other activities present there such as farming. Thus, usually treating with levity the aim and actions of protection pursued by the managing organization. This is manifested with the use of soils with poor or no suitability, with impractical methods of grazing and the systematic recourse to fire to clear pastureland. Improper ways of carrying out grazing and incorrect practices, besides causing irreversible environmental damage at times, it can also end up backfiring negatively on the growing of animals, bringing the possibility of their survival into jeopardy.
The aim of this research is on  the socio economic effects of grazing reserve in Nigeria
This research seeks to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the Evolution of Grazing Reserves in Nigeria?
  2. To what extend has grazing reserve impacted positively on the lives of pastorialist in Nigeria?
  3. What are the Nature of the problems facing grazing reserve system in Nigeria

This study is justified in the sense that, with the problems noted as regards to the various conflicts that have ensued between Fulani herdsmen and farmers across the country which arose from the destruction of farm lands by herds of cattle, and with the governments‟ willingness and strategies to curb these problems, there is a strong need for pastoralists to be given rights to land furnished with basic amenities for the settlement of their herds and their families.
Academically, the study will act as references materials and guide to future researchers who embark on similar study
This research covers the grazing reserve in Nigeria


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