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Local Learning: Ideas For Reducing Farmer-Herder Conflicts In Nigeria

The farmer-herder conflict has mutated and is now manifesting and transforming into other forms of conflicts. In Kaduna and Katsina state, the conflict has mutated into armed banditry involving cattle rustling, destruction or theft of farm crops, kidnapping and armed robbery.

For example, a traditional leader in Batsari Katsina categorically stated that “they were no longer herders in the LGA, most herders have now become bandits and cattle rustlers”

The gravity of the situation is such that the bandits operate freely and openly without checks. In Kaduna State, the farmer-herder conflict heightened between 2012 and 2013 but de-escalated between
2013 and 2019 and re-emerged with the intensity of attacks and heavy casualties in 2020.

The conflict in the state also assumed ethno-religious dimension as there is a thin line between ethnicity and religion on the one hand and ecological niches on the other.

In Benue State, the farmer-herder conflict was a frequent occurrence and there was a spike in the conflict incidences between 2014 and 2019 with the crescendo of escalation in 2018 after the state enacted the Anti Open Grazing Law which made a large number of the herders to emigrate from the state into neighbouring Nasarawa State.

The maxim wa gaa or wa usu (ranch or ruin your cattle) in Tiv language is the new norm in Benue State as attested to by Tiv farmers during a focus group discussion.

The conflict in Nasarawa between the farmers and herders can be attributed to the spillover effect of the conflict in the neighbouring Benue State Since Nasarawa is contiguous with Benue State, many the herders that were forced to leave Benue moved into Nasarawa State.

The migration of herders from Benue to border communities in Nassarawa exerted pressures on existing resources in these communities. It also heightened the conflict between farmers and herders in these communities. Ethnicity is also identified as one of the key conflict dynamics in the state. This is because the Jukun and the Alago groups from Keana have been mentioned consistently by a majority of the respondents as actors flaming the amber of the conflict so that they could have access to more farmlands.