The livestock sub-sector is an important component of the agricultural, rural and agri-food economy of the West African and Sahel states.
"Breeding contributes more and more to the formation of the regional GDP of more than 5% and more than 25% to the agricultural sector. It is also credited with a strong contribution to the integration of farming systems production and markets, making it one of the essential vectors of regional integration in West Africa", informs Julien Otchotcho, Permanent Secretary of the Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS) in Togo.
In practice, agropastoralism is largely based on transhumance characterized by the mobility of herders and their herds from areas of scarcity (Sahel countries) to areas with pasture and water (coastal countries), usually on a seasonal basis.
"In our region, over 90% of the ruminant livestock that we have is non-sedentary, it moves and a good part of the transhumance is what we know and it is this portion that seems to create the most problem because it leads sometimes to extremely violent conflicts", laments Dr. Bio Goura Soule, technical assistant livestock and pastoralism at the department of agriculture, environment and natural resources of Ecowas.
According to specialists, this situation results from the fact that the descent of most of the livestock matches with the development of the pioneering fronts of agriculture to feed a population that exponentially grows in the erea.
"These conflicts create a lot of confusion. We no longer see all the livestock markets that are installed, we no longer see all the milk processing units that are installed, we don't see all that it produces at the level of local economy. All this affects the cohesion and we arrive at stigmatization", regrets Dr. Bio.
It ordre to address the phenomenon, Ecowas, through the Integrated and Secured Livestock Pastoralism Project in West Africa (Pepisao) piloted by CILSS is tackling the issue by promoting dialogue mainly through a consensual approach well thought out with all the actors.
"The current context is characterized by a population explosion from the human and animal point of view that is putting a lot of pressure on the resources common to farmers and pastoralists. But, everyone has his experience in the context of natural resources management. Now, the challenge is how to achieve a consensual shared exploitation of resources so that everyone gets the better of the game", says Moussa Assoumane, coordinator of Pepisao to justify the meeting of Lome which brings together from 29 to 31 October 29 to 31, regional organizations of breeders and farmers.
The opportunity is thus given to these actors to express their point of view in order to enable the Ecowas commission to have the information to be codified in the form of regulations, measures or regional policy instruments.