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THE EFFECT OF FULANI HERDSMEN AND FARMERS CONFLICT ON FOOD SECURITY IN NIGERIA
The study examined the effect of Fulani herdsmen and farmers conflict on food security in Nigeria. The population of the study consisted of all the populace of Aguatu local government area. Simple random sampling techniques were used to select 200 respondents out of the population. The instrument used for data collection was questionnaire. The instrument was validated by two experts in evaluation and Test. Data from 200 completed questionnaire forms were subjected to PPMC analysis. the findings showed that Fulani herdsmen/farmers conflict had a proportional relationship on food security in Nigeria. The study however recommended that, the government of Benue State should introduce programmes that will encourage the farmers to remain in agriculture sector. This programmes should also address the plight of the subsistence farmers who are the majority participants among the sampled respondents. In this regard, agriculture sector of the state will remain attractive and effective thereby providing the necessary cushion against social vices and generating more employment opportunities as well as ensuring food security of the state.
1.1 Background of the study
The Fula people also known as Fulani in Hausa language, are a mass population widely dispersed and culturally diverse in all of Africa, but most predominant in West Africa. The Fulani’s generally speak the Fula language. A significant number of them are nomadic in nature, herding cattle, goats and sheep across the vast dry grass lands of their environment, keeping isolate from the local farming communities, making them the world’s largest pastoral nomadic group (Eyekpimi, 2016). They are massively spread over many countries, and are found mainly in West Africa and northern parts of Central Africa, but also in Sudan and Egypt. The main Fulani sub-groups in Nigeria are: Fulbe Adamawa, FulbeMbororo, FulbeSokoto, FulbeGombe, and the FulbeBorgu (Eyekpimi, 2016).
Prior to twentieth century, cows rearing was rifewithin the Guinea, Sudan and Sahel grassland belts wherever crop production was administered on little scale solelythroughout the short time of year. This gave cows herders access to a colossalspace of grass land. However, the introduction of irrigated farming within thegrassland belt of Nigeriaand also theinflated withering of pasture throughoutseason has created pasture less obtainable for cows. The herdsmen had to maneuver southward to the coastal zone wherevertime of year is longer and also the soil retains wet for long in search of greener pasture and water for his or her cows (Ofuoku&Isife, 2009). because the herders migrate southward wherever the grass is far lusher and infrequentlyinterfereareas long claimed or cultivated by settled farmers, conflicts typically ensued (Olaniyan, Francis &Okeke-Uzodike, 2015). This conflict is believed to possess existed since the start of agriculture and either inflated or shrunken in intensity or frequency looking on economic, environmental and alternative factors (Aliyu, 2015).
In several places, herders have clashed with farmers and their host communities over cows destruction of crops; farmers’ encroachment on grazing reserves and indiscriminate bush burning by nomads thatunremarkablyresults in loss of crops (Adeoye, 2017; Ofem&Inyang, 2014; Olaleye, Odutola, Ojo, Umar &Ndanitsa, 2010). The ostensible boldness of the perpetrators and mystery closethe important cause has continuingto draw in mixed perceptions. whereasseveralunderstand it as mere farming, pastureland and water dispute; others see it as reprisals in defense of live stocks from banditry in farming communities (Eyekpimi, 2016; Mikailu, 2016). In recent times, there arerife cases of herders-farmers clashes in Nigeria. Ofuoku and Isife (2009) noted that in Densina, Adamawa State, twenty-eightindividuals were killed; whereasconcerning 2500 farmers were displaced and rendered homeless in a very clash between them. Similarly, Idowu (2017) submits that the violence has displaced over 100, 000 individuals in Benue and Enugu States and left them below the care of relatives or in makeshift Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps whereasseveralare still troubled to build their lives.
Nigeria as a nation state is under a severe internal socio-economic and security threat. At a more general level, the threat has special economic, political and environmental dimensions. Each of these dimensions has greatly affected the nation’s stability and can be traced to the Fulani-herdsmen and farmers clash, ethnic militant armies, ethnic and religious conflicts, poverty, insurgency, armed robbery, corruption, economic sabotage and environmental degradation (Damba, 2007).
According to Homer-Dixon (1998), environmental scarcities contribute to violent conflict in many developing nations. In Nigeria, the conflict between nomadic herders and sedentary farmers is a leading resource-use conflict. The cause borders primarily on the competition to have access to land and freshwater (for grazing and farming), resources which have become acutely scarce (Audu, 2013). Massive desertification of vegetative lands and drought in Northern Nigeria compel herders to migrate toward the South in order to provide green pasture and water for their livestock. In the course of their movement down South, the nomadic herdsmen momentarily settle in farming communities where green vegetation and water are available. Disputes arise between herders and farmers over allegations from both parties. On the one hand, farmers accuse herders of destroying their crops by the encroachment of herded livestock on their farmlands and contaminating community water sources. On the other hand, herders accuse farmers of poisoning, killing or stealing their cattle and denying them access to grazing routes.
Pastoralism is a conventional occupation among certain groups in Nigeria including the Kanembu, Kwoya, Manga, Fulani and the Shuwa Arabs (Blench, 2010; Muhammed, Ismaila& Bibi, 2015). However, the Fulani are the most prominent herding group, owning over 90 percent of the country’s livestock (Abass, 2012). The fact that no other pastoral group is as numerous and expanded as the Fulani (Blench, 2003) could be presumed a reason for the pervasive stereotypes about the occupation of the Fulani pastoralists (Olayoku, 2014), and why they are the herding group mostly involved in disputes with farming communities.
The conflict between herders and farmers is a protracted issue in Nigeria. Violent clashes between them have been frequent since the 1980s, but gained new momentum in intensity and reoccurrence at the country’s return to civilian rule in 1999 (Blench, 2003). The progressive increase in the occurrence of clashes between herdsmen and farmers has been confirmed by different research findings and reports. It is reported that whereas only 18 incidences were recorded between 1997 and 2010, there was a surge of 371 attacks between 2011 and 2015 (SBM Intelligence, 2016). The conflict has been responsible for the death and displacement of many people in various regions of Nigeria. Fatalities are not limited to the conflicting herdsmen and farmers as innocent members of host communities are also casualties of the conflict. According to the Human Rights Watch (2013), the conflict between Fulani herdsmen and farmers significantly contributed to inter-communal violence and death of about 3,000 people in North-Central region of Nigeria between 2010 and 2013. On February 24, 2016, Fulani herders were reported to have raided and killed over 300 people in Agatu communities in Benue State, an epitome of the level of brutality that has become synonymous with the conflict in recent times.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Nigeria is seriously threatened by Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis and therefore, considered to be a major potential threat affecting Nigerians mostly on the part of socio-economic activities of the country (Egodi, 2010). The Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis is posing a serious obstacle to a successful national economy. Fulani herdsmen and farmers has become a major threat to the national security and development of Nigeria due to the fact that its increased operation has caused diversion and removed government attention on some key areas of the economy, as huge amount of human and material resources are channeled into curbing the menace (Egodi, 2010).
Conflict is a great predicament in any human society, and most times, it is predictable. In fact, history indicates that conflict is an on-going process in human relations and may occur within and among groups and communities. In the case of Nigeria, the frequent occurrence of Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis has left adverse effects on food security and socio-economic development of the people (Damba, 2007). In the course of these conflicts, farmers have at certain times, taken up weapons to counter the attacks from the Fulani herdsmen, claiming to do so in self-defense. The study conducted by Kassam (2016)gave an overview of the general concept and causes of conflicts in Nigeria and, advocates for ethical principles such as the common solidarity of humanity by origin, forgiveness and tolerance that could engender cordiality and understanding rather than sustained hostility and suspicion in Fulani herdsmen and farmers relation in Nigeria.
Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis no doubt have negative impact on the lives, property, food security and educational development in Nigeria. Though, there is the dearth of quantitative evaluation of the catastrophic attacks, available statistics has it that between June 2015 to December, 2016 Human Rights Watch in 2017, reported a total death toll of 65 persons in more than 24 attacks. It was also reported that an estimate of 50 people were killed in NasarawaEgor (Nasarawa State) and Agatu/Logo (Benue State) in the June 2016 and recently lives were claimed in Niger in the April 23rd 2017 crisis between Fulani herdsmen and farmers. Fulani herdsmen attack apart from the loss of lives has also led to the destruction of arable farmland and valuable properties worth several billions of naira.
The above scenario has dire consequences for sustainable and educational development in the States of attack in particular and Nigeria in general. In the States where the Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis is pervasive and the property destroyed potentially and in real terms, drag their economic fortune back by several steps. Besides the property destroyed, economic life in those States is automatically grounded to a halt. People are no longer free to go about their farming, economic and educational activities for fear of being killed. This is made worse as several thousands of people have migrated swiftly to other parts of Nigeria. The overall implication for sustainable development is that the farming, economic and educational activities are fast deteriorating. The murderous campaigns and vicious onslaughts on individuals and institutions provide highly unfavorable business environment for internal and foreign investment, which is a major factor in the achievement of sustainable development (Damba, 2007).
Another major problem posed by Fulani and herdsmen and farmers clash is that farming activities in some parts of Nigeria has been put to a halt. Farmers within this State find it hard to go to their farms as well as to get enough food crops to the market thereby, increasing price of commodity in the market. The government has spent huge amount of money on the renovation of buildings, and infrastructures that has been destroyed by these religious conflicts. Also, huge amount of funds from the country’s budget has been spent on the compensation of families who have lost their loved ones to the Fulani-herdsmen and farmers crisis. Also, huge amount of money is being spent on the acquisition weapons, ammunition in other to equip the military to handle the situation on ground. All these have affected Nigeria’s economy.
Again, in Niger the recent Fulani-herdsmen and farmers clash which took place on 23rdApril, 2017 at Niger reserve have caused serious damage to farmlands, claimed life and disrupt the socio-economic activities of the people of people leading to increase in the price of food items and commodities. Problems emanated from fear of Fulani herdsmen since people can no longer go to farms and walk at night. This has disrupted the peaceful coexistence of the Hausa people and indigenes of Niger community. All these have form the basis for the problem stated in this study, and this research work focuses on the problems and prospect of Fulani herdsmen and farmers clashes in Nigeria using Agatu Local government area of Benue State as a study area.
1.3. Research questions
- What is the effect of Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis on the level of food availability in Nigeria
- What is the effect of Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis on food accessibility Nigeria.
- What is the effect of federal/State Government security agencies efforts on Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis in Nigeria.
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The study shall be guided by the following objectives
- To examine the effect of Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis on the level of food availability in Nigeria
2. To examine the effect of Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis on food accessibility Nigeria
3. To examine the effect of federal/State Government security agencies efforts on Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis in Nigeria.
1.5 Statement of the hypothesis
- There is no significant effect of Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis on the level of food availability in Nigeria
2 There is no significant effect of Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis on food accessibility Nigeria
3 There is no significant effect of federal/State Government security agencies efforts on Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis in Nigeria
1.6. Significance of the study
This study is basically produced to fulfill an academic requirement. Nevertheless, it is hoped that it would go a long way to encourage more meaningful development efforts on issues relating to the effects of Fulani herdsmen-farmers crisis on food security in Nigeria government.
This study is not intended to break an entire new ground, rather, it is undertaken in the premise that it will add to the existing literature in the area of geography. In addition this study is very necessary especially at this point of Nigeria’s development, when there is massive increase in the need to map and study the infrastructural development of an area.
This work is expected to guide geographers, educationists, scientists, planners, engineers, architects, environmentalists, etc, and all those whose livelihood are affected to gain understanding of how Fulani herdsmen-farmers crisis can affect food security. However, the findings will also provide useful background information to future research in the contribution of geography education towards nation building.
1.7. Limitation of study
It is inevitable that a survey research of this nature must have some constraints which impact on this study. The materials for a proper and effective research work constituted a major limitation and even the decision to use questionnaire in data collection constituted some limitation of the study, that is, how to get the true and required information from the workers.
Finally, there was an anticipation of the problem of convincing the respondents on the filling of the questionnaires and to give the true and required information. But for the quick intervention the PROs of the selected villages in the local government took time to clear the air and convince their populace, helped me to accomplish my assignment
1.8 Scope of the study
The scope of the study was delimited to study the effect of Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis in Nigeria using Agatu LGA as a case study.
1.9 Operational Definition of terms
Conflict: refers to differences in interests and goals made manifest through violent clashes between a minimum of two groups at a given point in time. This study is primarily concerned about the conflict between herders and farmers in Nigeria resultant from resource scarcity and other factors; as well as its ranging effects on farming communities.
Herders: are prevalently Fulani nomads who rear and move their cattle from Northern Nigeria down South. They are hosted in farming communities and come in contact with farmers in various parts of Nigeria. The usage of the word “herders” in this study is alternated with “herdsmen” and “pastoralists”.
Farmers: refers to those who are involved in planting and growing of arable crops. Specifically, these are sedentary cultivators in various regions of Nigeria who have direct interactions- and disputes resultant therefrom- with herders.