Ending Nigeria's Herder-Farmer Crisis: The Livestock Reform Plan

In 2019, Nigerian authorities launched a ten-year National Livestock Transformation Plan to curtail the movement of cattle, boost livestock production and quell the country’s lethal herder-farmer conflict. But inadequate political leadership, delays, funding uncertainties and a lack of expertise could derail the project. COVID-19 has exacerbated the challenges. Violence fuelled by environmental degradation and competition over land has aggravated long-running tensions in the country’s northern and central regions. A surge in bloodshed in 2018 prompted Nigeria’s federal government to formulate a far-reaching set of reforms for the livestock sector. The new Plan represents Nigeria’s most comprehensive strategy yet to encourage pastoralists to switch to ranching and other sedentary livestock production systems. Modernising the livestock sector is key to resolving the herder-farmer conflict, which threatens Nigeria’s political stability and food security. Federal and state authorities, working with donors and investors, should prioritise securing funds, training personnel and communicating the Plan’s benefits to herders and farmers. Making progress on pilot ranches, donor commitments and staff training before the 2023 election, and ensuing change of administration, may help preserve the Plan’s post-election viability.