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The United Nations (UN) and other stakeholders met and recommended that pastoralists should adopt global best practices of ranching as path to sustainable peace.

They also recommended that farmers in the Middle Belt region be encouraged in their agricultural pursuit and also grow fodders to augment animal feed for pastoralists.

The recommendations were part of resolutions reached in a communiqué issued at the end of the Benue State Peace Seminar, held in Makurdi, the Benue State capital at the weekend.

The communiqué was signed by representative of government, traditional and religious leaders, socio-cultural organisations, Nigeria Farmers’ Association; representatives of Myetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association in Benue and Nasarawa states, nongovernmental organisations as well as security outfits.

The participants also appealed to the UN and Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) to strengthen the ‘Great Green Wall’ for the reclamation of the semi-arid regions of Northern Nigeria into green areas for pastoralists.

They argued that if these steps were taken, they would go a long way to address the incessant clashes between farmers and herders in the country.

Part of the communiqué reads, “In the pursuit of sustainable peace, the best global practice of ranching should be adopted by pastoralists who can rely on farmers for supply of fodder to augment animal feed.

“The nature of conflict is predictable; therefore, proactive measures involving all principal actors stated above should be adopted.

“The ‘Great Green Wall’ should be strengthened, that is, the reclamation of the semi-arid regions of Northern Nigeria into green areas for pastoralists to prevent downward movement of livestock and the consequent conflicts.

“The production of food crops and grains in the Middle Belt should be strengthened to avoid conflict between animals and crops.

“The issue of National Identity cards for all citizens of Nigeria should be taken seriously.”

The Project Team earlier observed that farmers and herders in Benue and Nasarawa states previously had a cordial relationship until issues of scarce resources of land, pasture, and water began to surface.

They also observed, “The intervention of the UN presents a workable platform for mediation, reconciliation and pursuit of lasting peace and development in Benue and Nasarawa states.

“All the principal actors, including the state government, traditional institutions, religious leaders, civil society organizations, all subscribed to peace.”

The seminar was jointly organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), with funding from the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS).

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