THE Ghana Cattle Ranching Project Committee has developed a national blue print on how to resolve the persistent conflict between herdsmen and crop farmers in a bid to boost crop yield.
The Director of Animal Production Directorate at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Mr Kwamina Akorful, said the blueprint was developed after several consultations by the committee.
He said it was time to turn it into a win-win situation instead of crops being destroyed and cattle and human beings being killed.
“We all know it is getting worse by the year. The issue is that the cattle owners and herdsmen are looking for food and water for their animals so no matter what you do, they will look for food and water,” he stated at a dialogue in Accra, under the auspices of the Sustainable Agriculture Intensification Research and Learning Africa (SAIRLA) Ghana National Learning Alliance (GH-NLA).
SAIRLA-GH-NLA works with relevant stakeholders to identify the different policies and mechanisms that can provide smallholder farmers, including women and young people, better access to resources and information relating to Sustainable Agriculture Intensification (SAI).
The Committee was jointly set up last year by the ministries of Food and Agriculture and the National Security, and tasked to find a lasting solution to challenges of herdsmen-crop farmers and to develop efficient strategies to improve domestic ranching in the country. Its membership was drawn from stakeholder groups.
Mr Akorkful said there was the need to create grazing reserves or ranches, that were well demarcated, fenced and developed and that the concept had proved to be useful in some neighbouring countries.
“So that if it is Fanteakwa or Agogo, we know that there are 10,000 hectares there. If you got to Togo, they have 20,000 hectares of such reserves so they know annually the number of animals they can take for five months,” he stated.
Although there are officially six entry points into Ghana, he said some people used unapproved routes into the country and stated that “these points should be developed so that anybody who is bringing cattle will at all cost go through one of the six entry points.”
“These places will be well manned by the requisite staff that will identify your animal, inspect your health certificate and direct you depending on where you are coming from. People will be there to receive you even what we want to do will even include accommodation for the herdsmen which they will pay for the period of stay,” he disclosed.
He said there would be regional and district committees with the latter as the implementation arm.
“So now the question will be thrown to the traditional authorities as to whether they are ready to cooperate. It is government’s plan and it will find the money but then government doesn’t own the land. Any traditional ruler who is prepared to give out land will be a shareholder,” he said, adding that private investors would be invited to develop these grazing fields.
Herdsmen versus crop farmers
The perennial clashed between some herdsmen and crop farmers in areas such as Agogo and Afram Plains have resulted in loss of lives and properties.
While the crop farmers accuse the herdsmen of allowing their cattle to graze on their farms, thereby destroying their crops, the herdsmen also accuse the crop farmers of stealing and shooting their cattle.
The concept of grazing reserves
A grazing reserve is a piece of land that the government acquires, develops and releases for pastoral activities.
The aims of such reserves include getting and protecting pasture-space for the national herds and eliminating discord between agronomists and pastoralists living in the same geographic area.—GB