Agriculture, (mobile) animal husbandry and arable and field cultivation (as rain- fed agriculture) are highly dependent on environmental conditions and the climate. These are primarily the precipitation; but other factors such as grasshopper incursions, bush fires or floods also influence agricultural production and productivity. The income of the rural population – a good 80% of the population – is therefore extremely variable. The quantity and quality of the precipitation and the intervals between the rain showers are decisive for the development of pasture growth and crops. Thus, after a rainy season, it is already foreseeable what the situation will look like in the coming dry season (between February and June / July).
In the Pastoral zone (less than 200 mm annual rainfall) predominates in extensive mobile animal husbandry, the agro-pastoral zone (over 200 mm annual rainfall) is characterized by both economic forms in various mixed forms: traditional livestock farmers who cultivate fields and sedentary farmers with various forms of animal husbandry. The southern parts of the country – along the Niger River and the border with Nigeria, belong to the agricultural zone, it climatically extends into the Sudan zone, with precipitation of up to 900 mm / year. In addition to subsistence fields, market crops are grown for sale. There is also some irrigation farming there. It is less of direct precipitation than of the availability of (ground) water in the wells Horticulture, the oasis gardens and the irrigation agriculture dependent. The forestry in Niger can get due to the climatic situation as a semi-arid Sahel country of little importance. The fishing is important regionally and primarily in Subsistenzbereich. With the construction of the Kandaji Dam, Niger also wants to use the source of hydropower and expand the irrigation areas.
(Mobile) animal husbandry
According to franciscogardening, most of Niger’s arable land is extensive grazing land. From an economic point of view, this area of primary production is of great importance. More than 11% of the gross domestic product is generated with animals and animal products, whereby there is a high gray figure rate, as many animals are marketed without papers across the border (‘on the hoof’ / ‘sur pied ‘), especially to Nigeria. Mobile animal husbandry is – traditionally seen – not based on the exploitation, but on the use of resources. It is the most adapted, ecologically and economically most sustainable management method at marginal locations with little or irregular rainfall.
Pastoralism is at the same time the way of life and culture of the Tuareg and Fulbe, Tubu, Yedina ethnic groups living in the pasture zone, but also of some Arab groups and Moors. The hikes of the nomadic animal keepers, adapted to the seasonal water and pasture conditions mostly allow a flexible use of the conditions (presence of water points and hiking trails to be covered with the animals and corresponding pasture grounds in quantity and quality (e.g. also ‘salt pastures’). The hikes mostly take place in north-south direction. Depending on the season and the climatic Special features of the year, hikes of shorter or longer distances are undertaken with or without the entire household. In the pasture zone, the local animal keeper groups have traditional regional points of reference (point d’attache) to which they repeatedly – at more or less regular intervals – to return.
Mostly old routes (pistes de transhumance) are used for the southern hikes and there are often well-established contacts with the sedentary farmers who are consolidated through ‘fertilization contracts’ – for mutual benefit Sometimes the nomads help the farmers with their draft animals to transport the harvest. Animal owners often traverse national borders, and there are now interstate agreements that simplify these migrations again. At the end of December 2019, Benin bans cross-border transhumance; opened the border from March 1, 2020 again for mobile animal husbandry from Niger.
There is competition to other animal husbandry systems in terms of the use of feed resources. To promote the diversity of sources of income and the strategy of (survival) security, peri-urban animal husbandry has been promoted for years. However, this also requires the availability of feed. Grass is often mowed in the pasture zone (it is forbidden by law) and transported to the cities by donkeys and donkey carts; The harvest residues for this branch of animal husbandry are also marketed and are no longer available.
Conflicts between mobile livestock owners and sedentary farmers are frequent when the livestock owners arrive too early in the agricultural zone, but they are also provoked by the creation of fields on the transhumance corridors or into the pastoral zone. This is legally prohibited! It is not uncommon for disputes between sedentary farmers and mobile livestock owners to be initiated externally to enforce completely different interests! There are also friendly relationships between field farmers and livestock keepers; It is not uncommon for nomadic animal owners to be given their own animals to tend.
The state tries with its breeding tranches, especially Toukounous, to improve the capacity of Nigerien cattle breeding. The focus is on improving the amount of meat and milk in the ‘Race Azawak’. Livestock keepers’ festivals are held as special events to present the breeding successes. The second main breed is the ‘Race Bororo’ with its imposing lyre-shaped horns, it has a low meat and milk yield, but is better adapted to the drier regions of Niger. The most interesting breed is probably the Kouri cattle (Kuri) from the Lake Chad region with its amphibian horns (even more powerful in the showcase than on the photo). It is one of the oldest cattle breeds in Africa (Bos Taurus) that is on the verge of extinction is threatened because their original biotope is degrading.
The improvement of animal production (cattle, sheep, goats and camels), product processing and marketing (especially milk and meat) in the country is a major goal for the livestock sector: this is also a contribution to the program 3N.