There has been a lot of outrage on the media over the killing of close to a hundred Benue farmers by Fulani herdsmen. Two honourable members of the house of reps recently argued over the value placed on the lives of cattle compared to the value placed on the lives of human beings. Every human live is precious. Cattle rearing is a fundamental part of the Fulani culture and that has to be understood. It was also brought to my knowledge that when cattle encroach on a person’s farmland, a value is placed and the owner of the cattle pays. So I wonder why all these killings. I think any herdsman should be able to own to the responsibility of compensating farm owners. Another report just came in now that the crisis is that of “who owns the land?”
The Reuters requested for a response to the crisis from the Nigerian current president and he was quoted to hold the view, like many experts, that these conflicts are more often than not, as a result of major demographic changes in Nigeria. I cannot agree more.
“Nigeria’s population was around 63 million when the West African country gained independence in 1960, compared with a population now estimated at close to 200 million.
“While the land size has not changed and will not change, urban sprawl and development have simply reduced land area both for peasant farming and cattle grazing.” This is more of an environmental vis a vis climate change issue. Groups are contending on land ownership due to increased desertification. The killings must not continue as rapid intervention is needed.
What can be done?
The herdsmen and farmers need to be sensitized about the relationship between environmental degradation, climate change and their trades. Both can meet at a midpoint. Politics needs to be out of it and the Presidency, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Environment need to pay rapt attention to ensuring infrastructure are provided for both parties.
Open grazing might not work rather large ranches be provided for the herdsmen as they also need to embrace innovation in order to continue with their native trade sustain-ably. Farmers should also be provided with the necessary infrastructure to promote sustainable agriculture in the country.