There has been constant conflict between farmers rearing cattle and others who grow crops, but a project has managed to reduce violence between farmers.
AHMED IDRIS: A new calf joins a herd that's grown over the past four years. The animals are a mix of local and foreign breeds, and the result of a government scheme to improve herd management and minimize conflict between farmers and herders. With spacious housing and a constant supply of feed and supplement, farm managers say business is thriving.
MAHMUD SIDI: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]
INTERPRETER: We got at least six Jersey pregnant cows and broncos and Holstein cattle from the government. They helped us upgrade our facilities, which enabled us to expand and employ more hands. Milk production is up, and we even sell off excess cattle.
AHMED IDRIS: Because of the upgrade, he says, milk production has grown by 300% in three years and continues to increase. The Sokoto State government started the program to stem violence sweeping many parts of Nigeria as competition for land and water intensified between livestock farmers and those growing crops. The state is expanding the program just as hundreds of cattle farmers, forced from the southern parts of Nigeria by the violence, are moving north.
ABDULQADIR USMAN JUNAIDU: We have 19 grazing reserves that are provided for these herders, and we have started demarcating some of them so that the farmers will now know their limit of encroachment [INAUDIBLE] they have to and where there is a possibility of trying to cohabit one another between the farmers and the herders as we have in some of these locations. That has been taken care of.
AHMED IDRIS: The cattle farmers are told to grow fodder for their herds and veterinary skills.
MUHAMMADU MAGAJI: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]
INTERPRETER: The government has made cattle routes safe. They're not obstructed or encroached upon in areas where the new scheme is up and running. We also have dams where our animals drink.
AHMED IDRIS: The herdsmen also encouraged to form milk cooperatives and send their produce to government or private milk processing facilities.
Nigeria's cattle population is estimated at 14 million. Three million of them here in Sokoto State, but while deadly violence involving cattle herders and farmers is reported across much of Nigeria, here in Sokoto State, there's been no major incident over the past six years. The government says its plans to settle pastoralists is bringing calm and raising output.
Violence between farmers and herders is a decades long problem in Nigeria, but has worsened recently, and many hope that initiatives like this might help bring that to an end. Ahmed Idris, Al Jazeera, Sokoto, Nigeria.