Farmers’ Association Tasks FG on Ranching Policies
All Farmers’ Association of Nigeria (AFAN) on Thursday, tasked the Federal Government to create policies on ranching for farmers and herders to adopt across the country.
The association made the call at a 2-day Stakeholders’ Meeting on Farmer-Herder Relations And Banditry organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in partnership with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the Kaduna State Peace Commission (KSPC) in Kaduna State.
Speaking at the event, the chairman of AFAN, Alhaji Nuhu Aminu, said there is an urgent need to identify bandits who are posing as herders to cause mayhem in Kaduna State.
Nuhu also said: “We need to come up with ranching policies for herders to adopt.”
According to the AFAN chairman, such a policy would help curb the growing crisis between herders and farmers alike.
Also speaking, CDD’s Principal Programs Officer, Shamsudeen Yusuf, who represented the Centre’s Director, Idayat Hassan, said that the stakeholders’ meeting is an avenue for all stakeholders to deliberate on the emerging concerns surrounding farmer-herder conflicts as well as the rising phenomenon of banditry in the State.
Yusuf said the meeting would also allow participants and parties involved to find solutions to improve the relationship between farmers and herders in the State.
He said: “We hope that with this meeting we can map out key areas of intervention and critical stakeholders in the conflict in order to with core issues that are central to the conflict between farmers and herders in Kaduna State.”
In his address, an expert on peacebuilding with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Dr. Chris Kwaja, commended the CDD for the platform which brought stakeholders together on the farmer-herder relations.
Dr. Kwaja also commended the people of Kaduna State for their resilience in peacebuilding in the state.
He said: “On behalf of the USIP I want to first commend CDD for this very important engagement and second to commend the people of Kaduna state for your resilience. Despite all you’ve faced you have contributed your own quota and everything needed in keeping the peace in the state.”
Dr. Kwaja added: “I want to commend the Commissioner, Samuel Aruwan, for being active in making efforts to ensure that people understand why there has to be peace.”
The commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs in Kaduna State, Samuel Aruwan, said stakeholders on the matter will have to look at the way how the issue farmer-herder conflict metamorphosed into the level of crisis experience in the state and the country at large.
Aruwan said it is important to put into consideration issues of cattle rustling, banditry and all., youth restiveness, drug abuse, armed robbery rape among many others.
He also said that the crisis between herders and farmers does not have any religious or ethnic undertone.
“The government’s appeal has been for all residents to have recourse to the law. if a farmer in the course of farming comes under attack, or his/her plants/crops are destroyed, the admonition is to have recourse to the law,” Aruwan said.
“The same appeal goes to the herders if in the course of grazing they are attacked or their cattle rustled, or they become victims of any security challenges, unfortunately, most of individuals and communities involved in these clashes often choose self-help rather than the law,” Aruwan added.
According to the commissioner, the action of taking laws into their (farmers’ and herders’) own hands complicates the conflict and worsens the bloodshed.
“The media narrative is also often not helpful. When armed bandits kill innocent herders and farmers while attempting to kidnap for ransom, some media will report that it is an attack by herdsmen, thereby inflaming the violence between pastoralists and their hosts,” Aruwan continued.
Continuing, Aruwan said that the state had established a commission – the Kaduna State Peace Commission – in 2017 with the objective of ensuring the monitoring, mitigation, and prevention of conflicts with a view to promoting peaceful and harmonious co-existence in the state.
Efforts made by the Commission so far
Reeling out efforts made by the Kaduna State Peace Commission, its commissioner, Hajia Khadija Hawaja, said while the farmer-herder conflict has nothing to do with religion or ethnicity as noted by Aruwan, some of the issues have been escalated.
She said: “The real issue, has nothing to do with religion or ethnicity but perception. For political reasons, probably, our elites created this phenomenon of farmer-herder among people who have co-existed together for centuries.”
“They have escalated it to become an international issue which we must solve locally by doing everything possible to create a peaceful environment for every one of us,” Hajia Hawaja said.
She further said the peace commission working to make sure that where there is a problem all parties are brought together to dialogue and find a common ground.
According to her, in trying to resolve the issues and improve farmer-herders relations, every party involved is respected and at all times allowed to air their views and grievances.
“There is distrust, relationships have been broken and because relationships are broken a Christian would not want to go where a Muslim is and vice versa and the thinking of the people is towing towards division,” She added.
She said the commission helps the people to collapse walls and bridges built over time and create a peaceful and harmonious environment by helping the parties identify what their problems are.
Also, Usaini Ori Musa, a representative of the Ministry of Agriculture said the Kaduna State Government hopes that the grazing reserves will become the center of agropastoral innovations, a guarantor of land security, a nucleus for nomadic herders settlement among many others.
Musa said to mitigate the farmer-herder conflict, the state government has 17 grazing reserves out of which four has been developed and gazette, while interested youths are encouraged to form cooperatives where they are trained and supported with loans and other incentives.
According to Musa, these cooperative activities help the youth remain gainfully employed and thereby reduces poverty and conflicts in the state.