PROLONGED FARMERS-HERDERS CONFLICT AND FOOD SECURITY IN NIGERIA
Nigerian has been faced with the challenge of farmers-herders conflict which has snowballed into a large-scale insecurity challenge for the country. At present, many citizens have been ejected from their homes and their source of livelihood have been cut off by the protracted conflict that has ravaged almost all sections of the Nigerian state. To solve this challenge and ensure there is no recurrence, it is important we torchlight the sources of the mayhem that has predispose Nigeria to life, nutrition and food insecurity and poverty.
The challenge of herders-farmers conflict started as a competition for natural resources occasioned by global warming caused by climate change. The climate change has caused seasonal weather and climate change, with applied effect such as flooding, drought, overheating and the likes. While not putting the blame on herders, it is important to note that the livestock are water dependent more than crop, and a small change that leads to water scarcity will leave herders moving around in search of luscious pasture and water for their animal. During this search for greener pasture for the animals, herders often have misunderstanding with crop farmers which in some cases leads to full blown violence. As this cycle continues, farmers whose properties have been destroyed by erring livestock in some cases attack herders and in other cases take into crimes such as cattle rustling in retaliation for destruction of their farmlands.
In addition to climate change, the ethnicization of trades in Nigeria have also contributed to this farmers-herders crisis. In Nigeria today, anyone herding is erroneously considered a Fulani man while some other tribes have been known to be farmers. The implication of this is that anytime there is a misunderstanding between herders and crop farmers, the ethnic differences is leveraged upon to fan the ember of discord which has made the problem very hard for traditional leaders to resolve.
This challenge is exacerbated by the conflict across the Sahel, the porosity of the Nigerian border and Boko Haram Terrorists who have used this opportunity to distribute arms to willing hands in the country. The implication of this is that the country now faces malnutrition, famine, kidnapping and banditry which has impede people from engaging in their legitimate businesses. In addition, the farmers-herders conflict has made some financially buoyant households to now depend on government for social protection thereby putting the country at a conspicuous space on the world poverty clock. In addition to the occupancy of the world poverty clock, 14.4 million Nigerians are already facing a food crisis and this could grow to 19.5 million by the end of 2022.
To reverse this trend, the government must first of all ensure deradicalization of people that have used this opportunity to take to crimes. Some of the victims of these conflict needs rehabilitation to save them from depression and purge them of animosity against their predators. There must also be a total cleansing of the land, of illegal arms and ammunition.
The government must as a matter of urgency realize that rainfed agriculture is not sustainable, and put in infrastructural support, incentives, and subsidies which can make farming more attractive and sustainable for all, thereby preparing the country for a win in the non-oil economy. In addition to loans being giving to farmers, the farming/herding profession must be formalized with structures that can protect the farmers, herders and their properties. Services that promote financial inclusion such as banking, life and health insurance must be introduced into the farming communities.
There is need for a bottom-up education of farmers through a well-structured farmers school where modern and innovative practices such as precision farming, climate-smart agricultural practices, data-oriented agriculture, remote monitoring, genetic improvement, radio frequency identification, milking and feeding automation can be taught to farmers’ association and cooperatives. It could be thought of that the RUGA program mulled by the Federal Government intended to offer some of these services, but it is important to note that the ethnicization of trade in Nigeria, and the belief that there is “Fulanization” of the country in some quarters will make it hard for the Federal Government to implement. Until the confidence in government is restored, the best approach to providing these services is to encourage formation of registered associations and cooperatives by farmers and herders who can mobilize their members to set up standard farms and ranches with human capacity development trainings and material support by the government.
About the Author
Hammed Olaoluwa Jimoh is a Development Professional from Nigeria and he currently works as a Lecturer at the School of Vocational and Technical Education, Federal College of Education, Katsina, Nigeria. He can be reached on LinkedIn via http://linkedin.com/in/hammedjimoh
Originally published at https://dailytrust.com on July 11, 2022.