with Abdoulie Dibba
LIFE OF THE RURAL PEOPLE
This Column is meant to monitor and report on issues that concern the people of the rural area in terms of how they are facilitating or hindering their development. In this edition, we will feature the initiative of the establishment of Stock Routes which is deemed as indispensable to sustainable extensive livestock production system in The Gambia for the reduction of conflicts between herders and crop famers and taking the PROGEBE-Gambia experience into consideration.
Without proper demarcation of Stock Routes, conflict between herders and crop famers will intensify as in the case of Kumbija in Sabach Sanjal District where cattle consumed all the Nerica rice fields of the women in this cropping season.
Livestock production in The Gambia is still based on the traditional low input free ranging system where cattle are herded during the day and tethered near villages in the night.
This system is totally dependent on natural pasture as feed source and hence access routes to these grazing and watering areas are crucial. Nowadays, due to factors such as population increase of both human and livestock, lack of land use planning, and unsustainable exploitation and use of natural resources has caused settlements and crop farms to extend into rangelands reducing grazing space and restricting access to these grazing areas. This resulted into seasonal livestock feed deficit which is a great constraint to livestock development and a concern for livestock farmers. Improvement and security of rangelands and stock routes are most invaluable to increased livestock production in the Gambia today.
PROGEBE BASELINE SITUATION
PROGEBE is a regional project supporting, Senegal, Gambia, Mali and Guinea Conakry and the Gambian funding project was 100% grant.
The project was implemented in three districts in The Gambia namely Kiang West, Niamina East and Nianija as primary sites and Kombo East and Sami as secondary sites.
The designated route or passage that allows livestock to access pasture and water points through farming area and avoiding damage to crops and other properties is the stock route.
Traditionally, stock routes and grazing areas were identified by every village and recognized and protected by all community members especially herders and herd owners. However, the extensions of cropping areas have encroached into Stock routers restricting access to garaging areas and the resultant crop damage by livestock have been a major cause of conflict between crop farmers and herders.
The encroachment had cut off completely denied some village herds from access to grazing and watering areas resulting in herds migrating to other districts or even across the border into Senegal.
PROGEBE- GAMBIA EXPERIENCE
The creation and rehabilitation of stocks route has therefore been the projects first intervention to be implemented in areas where the problem was most acute.
A consultative meeting with members of the communities particularly the herders and crop growers were initiated with facilitation by PROGEBE site staff and support of chiefs and village heads.
The routes were indentified by the communities concern with the consent of all members in the form of a written agreement signed by all concerned.
The routes were ten demarcated wide enough herders.