IT is no longer news that there are many unreported cases of clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Benue State and other parts of Nigeria. This has led to the loss of lives and property in the affected places. The conflict of interest between the herdsmen and the farmers on open grazing can be said to be the architect of this conflict. Many stakeholders believe that establishment of cattle ranching is the solution to the situation. Establishment of ranches and the movement of beef instead of cattle have been identified by stakeholders as ways to end the repeated clashes.
The clashes are already a major scourge confronting the nation. This is begging for the urgent intervention of the Federal Government. No less than 50 reported cases have occurred since the beginning of the year and governments, at various levels, have not come out with realistic plans to contain the crisis.
According to a newspaper publication on March 9, 2018, it was reported that the activities of these herdsmen, if not checked, could result into a full blown war which at this time will not be good for our country. They therefore called for establishment of ranches so as to allow the herdsmen feed their cattle in a concentrated area, instead of moving them around and destroying people’s farms.
Mr. Emmanuel Ijewere, coordinator of Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), explained that government should convince the herdsmen that animals lose more weight when they walk around and they gain more weight should they be ranched. He said the herdsmen and farmers should also be convinced that those clashes are not in their interest. He particularly advised government to provide properly designated grazing areas that must have water, stressing that government must adopt a policy of moving beef and not cattle.
The herdsmen indisputably represent a significant component of Nigeria’s economy. They constitute the major breeders of cattle, the main source of meat, the most available and one of the cheapest source of animal protein consumed by Nigerians.
The contribution of herdsmen to the local food chain and national food security cannot be overstressed. The herdsmen, with their dominance in the Sahel region, are the best known and most numerous of all the pastoral groups in Nigeria. All these have implications for survival and struggles between or amongst communities. Since insecurity gives ways to conspiracy, conflicts are inevitable. The object of security is to primarily advance the wellbeing and possessions of the persons involved. When the character and nature of the state do not seem to protect the security of the citizens, their freedom and choices completely shift away from the state to individuals or group as the focus of security.
Conflicts between pastoralists and farmers have existed since the beginning of agriculture and increased or decreased in intensity and frequency depending on economic, environmental and other factors. For example, increase in the herd sizes, due to improved conditions of the cattle, compelled the pastoralists to seek for more pastures and thus provoke conflicts.
We have watched with pain in our hearts the loss of lives and property. We have also said it repeatedly that this crisis on our hands could have been avoided if the relevant stakeholders have done the needful.
The best solution is for the Federal Government to provide adequate security and ranching.
- Salami Sheriff, firstname.lastname@example.org