The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Nigerian Government commenced the implementation of pilot National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), an initiative of the Nigerian Government, in Kaduna and Niger States.
The project which is funded by the FAO gulp $491,000, it has 100 beneficiaries including men and women who were selected in the two states through the conduct of a baseline survey.
FAO, through a Technical Cooperation Project (TCP), is piloting the NLTP and its attendant benefits to households.
The outcome of the project targets to increase Household incomes through improved livestock productivity, strategic marketing and sustainable value chains.
An integral part of the project is the establishment of two modern ranches one in each of the two states to demonstrate best practices in livestock management through the establishment of modern ranches with infrastructures such as, fencing, solar powered boreholes, drip irrigation, accommodation for extension workers, training shed, hay barn, crush and pasture development.
The National Consultant to the Project, Jazuli Bichi during a tour of the project site in Damau, Kabau Local Government Area of Kaduna State, said recent climate change and climate variability had severely affected the traditional grazing lands that were never re-seeded with good quality forage materials leading to increase on trans-human movement of animals.
He said to address the issues confronting the livestock sector; the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development requested the FAO to provide technical assistance for the implementation of the National Livestock Plan in some selected pilot states.
Bichi said in view of this, Kaduna and Niger State were selected for the Intervention Livestock Model that was designed to follow an evolutionary process of livestock development that is highly dependent on cultural practices, agro-ecology, land availability, supporting infrastructures and resources such as water and feed sources.
He said the objective of the project is ensuring food and nutrition security of livelihood and safeguard livelihood, while livelihood income will improve through improved livestock productivity and increased market potential.
He said during the planning stage of the project, they encountered challenges such as convincing the pastoralists that it is possible to keep their animals in place, feed them and get quality milk and meat.
“If you tell them that you can do livestock intensification, keep your animals in one place and you don’t need to be going anywhere, they will think they will say you are crazy because that’s their way of life, that’s what they believe in.
“So, this project in itself is just to demonstrate that it is possible to do this kind of activity, do intensification, keep the animals in one place and provide the necessary infrastructure, which at the end of the day will improve the productivity of the animals.
He said the project was planned on three outputs, which includes to identify how to establish the project, provide the infrastructure, and provide capacity building which he said is a serious problem in terms of livestock production.
Bichi said at the conception level of the project, there was a national stakeholders meeting in Abuja, where states and stakeholders were invited to look at the project document, and some suggestions and amendments were made.
“So when we went to Damau the first time to launch the project, we took a baseline to find out the status of the beneficiaries which principally are the pastoralist, but we didn’t stop there, we look at the farmers because we want the farmers and pastoralists to work in harmony, to see themselves as partners in progress, not as competitors because what is leading to more problems is farmers and pastoralists look at them as competitors because they’re looking for the natural resources”, he said.
In Damau, FAO identified existing infrastructures, did the normal profiling and identified the pastoralists and the farmers.
Three hectares of land was made available in the ranch, but the beneficiaries provided more hectares of land making the size to become nine hectares which FAO fenced for grass and legume cultivation which will serve as feed for the animals.
FAO also provided drip irrigation for both the nine hectares of grass and legumes and for the animals at the ranch.
The pasture is expected to provide feed for the animals throughout the year using drip irrigation.
“So we provided the infrastructure, we established the pasture which they have already taken over by themselves, even though this year we had issue with the rain, but with the drip irrigation lines we have mounted now, they should be able to irrigate and produce more of their pasture in that place”, Bichi said.
Also at the ranch, the Kaduna state government provided Veterinary Clinic, level line which are all the components of the FAO intervention.
So, instead of replicating the same project, FAO channeled the fund in developing the nine hectares of lands made available by the community for pasture cultivation.
The grazing reserve has an existing six boreholes, again a component of FAO intervention, so instead of duplicating the projects, FAO embarked on renovation of the six boreholes which will provide more water to that community, and also aid in the irrigation of the pasture.
Bichi said a capacity building was conducted for the beneficiaries on how to use crop residues to process feed for the animals
“Then on the other hand is the capacity building, from the feed issue, they are surrounded by a lot of feedstuffs, that they don’t even use, there are lots of crop residues that they misuse, which at the end of the day if you develop them, it will be useful for them.
“So we trained them on how to conserve feed, we trained them to utilise the feed efficiently for animals”, he said.
Also, FAO trained the pastoralists on the best practises for milk production and collection, because the former practice allows the milk to deteriorate faster before processing.
The farmers were also trained on proper agribusiness, how the farmer can produce feed that the pastoralist can buy so that there will be mutual relationship.
“So the farmers were trained on how to produce livestock feed, how to utilise the crop residue from their farm and it becomes money, because some of the crop residues are thrown away, but now if you go to this project area, they know they can utilise this crop residue into livestock feed”, the consultant said.
To ensure sustainability of the project, FAO also selected 20 persons from the community and trained them to become service providers in terms of artificial insemination, animal health services and others.
“We are going to issue them certificates of attendance so that you can leverage about 20 of the community base persons to be artificial insemination service providers.
The same way we’re having another set of 20 to train them on ways to handle animal health.
“So the third component of the training is to train all the beneficiaries on the issue of livestock production.
So we are looking at safety issues, if you want to go into livestock production now cows for example, if nobody told you about safety issues, you end up injuring yourself or killing yourself.
“So are looking at safety issues in terms handling, in terms of the environment, the wastage the animals are producing how to utilise them, especially this issue of biogas and we’re even go to demonstrate biogas for them, so that we can look at use of the Cow dungs to produce gas for cooking for whatever, so that we can reduce the impact of felling of trees down there at the grassroots level, so that we can help the environment”, he explained.
One of the beneficiary pastoralists in Damau, Sani Mohammed Oro who spoke in Hausa language said before the intervention they moved from place to place in search of food and water for their herds.
He said so far they are grateful for the interventions particularly the training aspects, which have been of great help to them in caring for the reserve and their cattle.
He added that the training has helped improve their output especially in the area of milk production as their women were taught how to process cow milk into yoghurt and other things.
Although he wishes the FAO would revive the other moribund boreholes in order to end water shortage on the reserve, he further explained that the borehole provided by the FAO is over stretched as it serves both cattle and pastoralists.
Another Beneficiary Hareera umar who also spoke in Hausa said, for her, the fact that she and her fellow pastoralist no longer move from place to place for feed and water exposing them to danger in the wild is a welcome development.
She noted that being settled at a place is helping her children as they have been enrolled in school and now have the opportunity of acquiring western education.
FAO Funded NLTP That Keeps Herders, Farmers.