Opinion

Re: War Between Pastoral and Arable Farmers: Much Ado About Leadership by Lai Deinde

For as long as I have been conscious of happenings in and around me,  have I been reading, consistently, the news about how two important groups of Nigeria economic revival team have been engaging themselves in a needless battle.

The one that leaves the unimaginable volume of casualties: human and material needed for the growth and development of our fragile, export-dependent economy.

Arable and livestock farming both have a rich history in the evolution of the geographical expression called Nigeria, hence both have been there for long, coexisting, deriving mutual benefits from each other, in some cases a single entity undertake both!  Several years down the line, different cultures settled for their preference, between both.

In the time past, the issue of livestock farmers and their herd destroying cultivated land started as a fluke, it is sad the government over the years treated the issue with levity,  which made it degenerate into what it turned out to be, as of now.

The government needs to be more proactive and visionary in handling any matter,  that is not saying they are not,  but a step further would have addressed the age-long issue.

To address the issue,  there is need to address the peculiarity of the stakeholders/practitioners of arable and livestock farming.

Arable farmers are found in almost all tribes in Nigeria,  they are mainly subsistence in nature, they are not so mobile, the need to move is dictated by a fertile land, which hardly happens, except in few cases.  They are not always the owners of the cultivated land but are good at soliciting for land from the owners, while both owner and themselves derive mutual benefit. It is in few cases of having the land transferred from a generation to another that brings rancour between them and landowners.

As for livestock farmers, they are mainly of Fulani tribe,  nomadic in nature, which makes them ubiquitous even beyond Nigeria. The need desire to always have a good pasture for their herd keeps them moving, seeking same and shelter in make-shift camps. This exposes them to harsh weather and some environmental dangers like snake and scorpion attacks, rainfall, among many. They hardly seek the consent of either landowner of arable farmers before grazing,  which is the major reason for the face-off between them and arable farmers. To address the issue is to look into how and why the livestock farmers constantly overrun the farmland of their fellow farmers, who are mostly stationary in a  location(s).

The legitimacy of the activities of both parties is worth an appraisal. Both parties are involved in the economic pursuit of resultant financial gain/benefits,  hence both parties have a right benefit from their efforts.   By that, the government under whose umbrella all citizens, are should fashion ways of limiting each party, so their path crosses not. The way out is ensuring that the mobile livestock farmers either engage in ranching their herds of desisting from straying or entering into cultivated lands! Having arable farmers to protect their cultivated land is also not out of place.

In all listed way-out,  having to care for the herds in a ranch has a high economic advantage, for farmers who engage in both livestock and arable farming,  such can never do anything outside having a ranch or at best a confinement, unless his own herd, destroys his cultivation.

Livestock raised on a ranch has the potential of higher meat output,  as the herds do not journey several miles in search of sustenance. Loss of few animals,  which is a common experience while traversing in search of pasture is avoided. Hostile treatment by host communities is avoided. Farmers too will not be exposed to earlier listed dangers.

The foreign incursion to the subject should never be entertained.  We actually have to walls along our borders with neighbouring countries. That is no justification for unwarranted and unsolicited trespass, which is even causing a great deal of damage to the land. The government must be seen as doing everything within her means to protect all residents in the land,  set the tone for the practice of economic activities, which only could be actualised under a peaceful atmosphere. Those saddled with manning all entry points into the country have some explanation over the foreign incursion angle to the subject.

The two classes of farmers are so vital to the present government’s program of food sustenance, by growing what we consume,  less dependence on imported food, conservation of scarce foreign exchange.

The very reason,  the government should find a lasting solution to how both parties will continue to contribute to the revival and resuscitation of the national economy, while no group trample upon the right of the other. More so each of them engages in economic pursuit, factors that will make the venture successful should be considered within the legal and statutory limit.

They are both needed,  hence the leadership should never be seen as paying lip service to the matter as was the case from time past. The present administration can not afford to fail the citizens the country, going by the importance of the activities of both parties to the economy.

Layi Deinde 2018

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