The acting Executive Director of the Agriculture and Rural Management Training Institute, ARMTI, Dr Olufemi Oladunni, told newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday that unlocking the potentialities of cassava leaves as livestock feed would reduce crop farmers/herdsmen clashes in the country and would be a massive step forward in the agricultural sector.
Oladunni said it was unfortunate that the conflict between farmers and herdsmen had caused so much losses that could have been avoided if stakeholders in the sector had considered the other potentialities of the cassava plant.
Oladuunni said: “The Minister of Agriculture mandated the institute to carry out a research on cassava to identify the benefits of using cassava leaves as livestock feed and to develop the cassava leaf value chain.
“The benefits of cassava leaves are enormous in terms of improving our livestock production mainly in the area of more proteins for our animals especially the ruminant ones.
“The problem on ground is how to feed the cattle.
“That is why we have been having crisis; the herdsman wants to feed his animals with plants and on the other hand, the crop farmer is the owner of that resource.
“How do we balance the two?
“One of the ways is the cassava lifting we are trying to advocate.
“Over time, we have neglected the other components of cassava as a crop especially the leaves that have been wasting away.’’
Oladunni said cassava leaves could serve as a good source of revenue for a crop farmer and a provider of jobs.
He said the institute would hold a seminar on Nov. 24 to rub minds and see how cassava could be eaten as hay.
He said the institute would also propose a livestock feed mill where such feed could be packaged and sold in markets.
He said: “Nigeria has not focused on it as a nation and that is why we are bringing it to the fore to see how we can develop it as a value chain and as a source of employment.
“Generating a new feed resource for livestock would lead to a reduction in the spate of conflict between crop farmers and herdsmen, these are the areas the seminar will touch on.’’
Prof. Dolapo Lufadeju, the Managing Director, Lufarmco Investment, a consultant to the institute, said Nigeria had not been able to move from pastorialism to domesticating cattle due to lack of feed.
Lufadeju said pastorialaism had been all over the world especially in countries such as the U.K, America, and Russia in time past.
He said it was after such countries had developed their livestock industry into a business that they began to domesticate cattle.
He said they succeeded because they had all the feed their cattle needed.
Lufadeju said: “Here we don’t have anything on which our cattle are based upon and development is fast catching up with the system of pastorialism.
“That is the reason for the conflict between farmers and herdsmen.
“What we are looking at is a major cattle industry that needs to be developed as a business.
“Crop production has advanced, but nothing has happened in terms of development of livestock in this country.’’