Lingering farmers-herders,

Lingering farmers-herders feud threat to nation’s food security ― Agric Minister

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The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar has said the age-long conflict between farmers and herders is hindering Nigeria’s quest to achieve food security and is also a threat to national security in Nigeria.

This is just as the Minister appealed to international communities, development partners, and other allies of Nigeria and Africa for assistance in addressing shrinking lakes in the African region, stating that the consequences of Lake Chad drying up is the increased unrest in the region occasioned by competition for scarce resources among fishermen, farmers, and herders.

Speaking during the Regional summit on ‘human and climate security challenges and farmer-herder conflict resolution in the livestock sector, the Minister noted that the livestock industry in Nigeria and West Africa has huge potential for sustainable employment of millions of people through its numerous value chains, hence it is not an industry to be handled with kid gloves.

He said the north-eastern region of Nigeria is witnessing the negative impact of the depletion of water in the “Oasis in the desert” Lake Chad on the livelihood of over 45 million people living in the Basin, including crop farmers, fishermen and particularly livestock farmers and other people living around the lake as they depend on it for their economic well-being and sustenance.

Abubakar noted that the dimensions farmers/herders crisis has taken calls for deep introspection into unraveling the causes of the heightened, unwarranted attacks by both actors in the conflict and more innovative ways of addressing it.

He said, “our desire as a nation is for the restoration of the Lake in the sub-region to its former glory by recharging it and also preventing further shrinkage. This is evident in our various appeals to the international communities, development partners, and other allies of Nigeria and Africa for assistance.

“Some of the consequences of Lake Chad drying up is the increased unrest in the region occasioned by competition for scarce resources among fishermen, farmers, and herders. This unfortunate situation has been exacerbated by the terrorist activities of Boko Haram in the region, banditry, and kidnapping for ransom which has now extended to other parts of the country in Nigeria and neighboring countries.’’

He attributed the surge in the age-long conflict to the complex interaction between the changing nature of the availability and access to natural resources (land and water) in the region as a result of the effects of climate change.

The Agric Minister said the summit became necessary as it provides the opportunity for dialogue and discourse on the way forward for achieving peaceful coexistence between crop farmers and livestock herders whose incessant conflict in the region is threatening food and national security in Nigeria.

Other factors igniting the farmers/herders crisis according to him include; the rapidly rising population of humans and livestock, diminishing arable and grazing lands, industrialization, negative political influence, and undermining of age-long but proven traditional approaches to managing conflicts.

‘’Natural resources are under increasing stress due to climate change, leading to fierce competition and violent conflicts over their use.

‘’While climate change was not a precursor to the migration of herders to the southern and north-central of Nigeria, it has increased their migration from areas with a high frequency of drought and lower availability of natural resources to the southern forest zone with better resources for their livestock,’’ he said.

He said: “Natural resources are under increasing stress due to climate change, leading to fierce competition and violent conflicts over their use. While climate change was not a precursor to the migration of herders to the southern and north-central of Nigeria, it has increased their migration from areas with a high frequency of drought and lower availability of natural resources to the southern forest zone with better resources for their livestock.

In his remark, kebbi State governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu noted that the movement of livestock in and out of the country is a challenge that must be addressed.

‘’The movement of livestock across the country has become a challenge that must be addressed.

“This challenge will be easy to understand when linked to climatic issues. The lakes supporting animal husbandry are drying up.

“We need to figure out how to support the economic groups affected by climate change, even our farmers affected by conflict.

For Hakeem Ayinde Ajeigbe of the International crop research institute for semi-arid tropics (ICRISAT) kano, weak inter-sectorial coordination of communal pasture, lack of grazing lands, water, fodder, and farming land has increased tension among farmers and herders.

According to him, the nation’s capacity to respond to increasing demand for livestock and livestock product is constrained by poor nutrition (also quantity rather than quality) and seasonal variation in pasture resources, and a weak animal feed industry

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