A solution to the lingering farmers-herders crisis may have been hatched with the launching of a locally constructed greenhouse technology-hydroponic cow fodder feeding programme by the Nigerian Farmers Group and Cooperative Society (NFGCS).
It is a no soil method organic grass growing technology developed by the group to eliminate open grazing and end the incessant clashes between herders and farmers and ultimately, to ensure better feeding for their livestock.
The local technology, according to the national coordinator of the group, Retson Tedheke, is simple and cheap to run if the government is willing to encourage cattle breeders to adopt the model as an alternative to their endless roaming in search of fields and lands to graze their animals.
Mr Tedheke Retson, the National Coordinator of the group, made this known in an interview with journalists recently at NFGCS’s Farm Centre, Ga’ate, Nasarawa State.
He explained that it was part of efforts by the group to ensure proper feeding of cattle for meat and dairy as well as to limit open grazing that often lead to clash with farmers.
He said hydroponics is a method of growing plants in a water-based, nutrient-rich solution, which does not require soil but the root system.
“In this programme, we have a herdsman who is learning to grow grass every seven days without soil for their cattle.
“We localised the concept of growing grass, so the herdsman understands that he can build a hydroponic unit with wood and roofing sheets.
“He can use a basket to plant the grass and not just that he can also use a borehole that will not cost too much to water the hydroponic unit to feed at least 200 cattle per day.
“We are giving the Fulani community around the farm centre a borehole, a hydroponic unit and baskets for them to begin to plant,” he said.
The coordinator said the hydroponic method of growing grass was more nutritious to cattle and often produced more yield.
He further explained that it takes only such crops like sorghum, maize, rice, cowpea and water, crates, shredded jute bags and little attention is all that is required and your animals can feed all through the year.
He said, “Every one kilogramme of maize planted, for instance, in seven days we will harvest over seven kilogramme of the seed, the stem and the leaves, forming high nutrient fresh food for the cow.”
Retson said besides establishment of the hydroponic programme, the NFGCS was working to ensure community integration, saying it was critical to tackling herders/farmers crisis in the country, adding that efforts have been successful since the pilot took off.