Cattle ranching as a panacea to herdsmen and farmers crises in Nigeria



1.1     Background to the study

It is no longer news that there is a fracas between the herdsmen and farmers in  Ondo state and other part of Nigeria which has led to the loss of dozens of lives and properties in the state. The conflict of interest between the herdsmen and the farmers on open grazing can be said to be the architect of this conflict. Many stakeholders in the  state believe that establishment of cattle ranching is the solution to this precarious situation. There has been fierce debate as the Federal Government, which earlier promoted the idea of cattle ranch, opted for ‘cattle colonies’ leaving many people to ask what cattle colony is.  The introduction of cattle colonies came following the recent tension generated by the attack in ilado village in Akure North local Government area of Ondo state. Furthermore, Colonies and ranches are the same thing in many ways except that a colony is bigger that a ranch; a colony is a biological expression for any species of animals whether by nature or by human design that are found in a large community sharing the same terrain, such as bee colonies in certain areas.

Establishment of ranches and the movement of beef instead of cattle have been identified by stakeholders as ways to end the incessant clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in the country. Over the years there have been uncountable clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Ondo state, and other part of the country which have resulted to loss of lives and properties with several others being displaced from their homes. The clashes are fast becoming unbecoming, and a major scourge confronting the nation which is begging for urgent intervention of the Federal Government.

Over the last decade, reporting of farmer-herder violence has increased exponentially. Violence between Fulani herdsmen and farmers is one of Nigeria’s most persistent security problems and has left thousands of people  dead in recent decades. The largest spike in reporting, occurring between 2013 and 2014, may be as a result of an increased number of incidents, increased awareness on the issue, or both. It may likewise be attributed to the 2014 presidential elections and the increased Boko Haram activity during this period. In any case, the increasing number of articles covering this issue signifies the growing urgency of this crisis (Blench, 2010).

The prevalence of crises in the country has become a major concern for the well meaning Nigerians considering the impact on the peace, security as well as the economy of the nation. Destruction of lives and properties has almost become an everyday affair. These happenings have created a fearful atmosphere that discourages investors both domestic and foreign. By and large the economy of the nation is threatened. In explaining the political situation in the country; three terms need to be clarified. They include: crises, crises and violence. A crisis is the aftermath of crises and violence.

Farmer-herder crises in Nigeria occur as a result of resource scarcity; there exists a growing scarcity of arable land and water sources that are equally essential to sustain crop cultivation and cattle herds. Farmers encroach on grazing routes, and have expropriated land designated to grazing reserves, while herders often destroy crops, pollute water sources and trespass on farms to feed their cattle. This is further exacerbated by the growing population of farmers, herders and their herds, increasing scarcity of arable land due to droughts, impending desertification of the sahel-savannah, land degradation, and cultural differences among ethnic groups that predominantly farm or graze cattle (Fiki & Lee,2005).

Many Nigerians however attribute the violence to ethnic incompatibility. Nigerians have become accustomed to headlines that read, “Fulani herdsmen attack Guma and Logo and120 persons were killed. As Nigerians, we are also familiar with reports of incessant “clashes between the majority Muslim north and Christian south.” Although these narratives are not completely false, as evidenced by the fact that a majority of clashes occur in the most diverse middle belt states, Plateau, Taraba, Ekiti, Kogi and Benue, and most expecially Ondo State which is my case study, they are oversimplified narratives of deeper

issues, such as increased insecurity following the emergence of Boko Haram, increased access to arms and automatic weapons, and also the exploitation of farmer-herder violence by Boko Haram terrorists (Blench & Dendo, 2003 and Rashid, 2012).

The Fulani indisputably represent a significant component of the Nigerian economy. They constitute the major breeders of cattle, the main source of meat, the most available and cheap source of animal proteins consumed by Nigerians. The Fulani own over 90% of the nation’s livestock population which accounts for one-third of agricultural GDP and 3.2% of the nation’s GDP (Eniola, 2007). Furthermore, the contribution of the Fulani to the local food chain and national food security cannot be overstressed. The Fulani, with their dominance in the Sahel region, are the best known and most numerous of all the pastoral groups in Nigeria. The traditional and unique Fulani encampment (ruga) consisting of temporary structures made of stalks, closely knit family members and livestock is the natural habitat of the orthodox Fulbe settlement (Eniola, 2007) (Eniola, 2007). As the state cannot regulate the mutual coexistence of its citizens in the harmonious sharing of the competed resources, the parties may have to resolve to struggle among themselves with no retreat, no surrender and for the survival of the fittest. The failure of the state, for example to resolve the ‘settler/ ‘indigene’ identity and the inherent struggles over resources can be adduced to have brought dangerous dimensions of economic and political elements in the Fulani pastoralists and farmers’ conflicts (Fiki and Lee. 2014). Issues bordering on local community security, safety and development are paramount in the enhancement of governance and increase or decrease in agitation for control of resources as well as encroachment of the rights of others. All these have implications for survival and struggles between or amongst communities. Again, local resistance to state policies is central in resource-use through strengthening of community capacity to manage resources and deal with conflicts. Hence, security is a framework for intervention and conflicts. Since insecurity gives ways to conspiracy, conflicts are inevitable. The object of security is to primarily advance the well-being and possessions of the persons involved; while the survival of the state is secondary. In other words, when the character and nature of the state do not seem to protect the security of the citizens, their freedom and choices completely shift away from the state to individuals or groups as the foci of security. The expansion of Fulbe pastoralism into Nigeria is unknown. It is suggested that Fulbe began to settle on the plains of Bauchi Emirate transcending onto the grassland of the Jos Plateau (Blench, 2010). Conflicts between pastoralists and farmers have existed since the beginnings of agriculture and increased or decreased in intensity and frequency depending on economic, environmental and other factors. For example, increases in the herd sizes, due to improved conditions of the cattle, compelled the pastoralists to seek for more pastures beyond their limited range. Climate change has constituted a great threat by putting great pressures on the land and thus provoking conflicts between them. However, improvements in human health and population have enhanced a much greater pressure on land. Since the 1980s therefore, there has been a marked expansion of cultivation of the fadama (reverine and valley-bottom) areas. This means that both the farmers and pastoralists have engaged in fierce struggles for access to such valuable lands which, more often than not, result in increased conflicts and violence. The Tor Tiv, Prof. James Ayatse, said establishment of ranches was the only solution to the recurring clashes between farmers and herdsmen in the country.

Ayatse (2018) is of the opinion that regulating the movement of the herdsmen would be difficult, adding that it was only practicable on paper. Ayatse said that the country stood to benefit from the introduction of ranches as jobs would be created for Nigerians. He said that ranching would not stop free movement of herdsmen especially if they were passing through a particular state. “If you allow free movement without control, you put everybody at risk and this is what we are seeing in Benue, ranching is part of the control,“he said. The Tor Tiv said that creating ranches did not go against the ECOWAS Treaty of free movement of persons in the sub-region as it was being thought. He said that a committee had been constituted in conjunction with the police in his domain, to identify the “bad eggs” and hand them over to the police. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Ondo House of Assembly had recently passed a Bill prohibiting open grazing and allowing the establishment of ranches in the state. The bill is entitled: “Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law, 2017’’

According to Okereke (2012) and Bello (2013), the conflicts in most part of Nigeria especially the Fulani herdsmen and farmers clash are largely uncalled for. Farmers can no longer farm peacefully because of Fulani herdsmen. These Fulani herdsmen and farmers clash have pitched Christians and Muslims against each other. Recent studies conducted by Okereke (2012) and Kasarachi (2016) have shown that, serious conflict erupt between Fulani herdsmen and farmers leading to loss of lives, valuable properties and destruction of vast expanse of arable agriculturalfarmlands thereby posing serious threat to food security since farmers for fear of attack could no longer go to farm and harvest their farm produce. The latest attacks by Fulani herdsmen is on the upsurge, with the most latest attacks in February 2018 happening in Ondo State, Benue State, Taraba State, Nassarawa State and few cases of attack in other states.

In recent times, the killings recorded by Fulani herdsmen and farmers clash has rampaged most communities displacing them of their farmlands and loss of their major source of livelihood. This is becoming unbearable with the Fulani herdsmen always having their ways leaving the farmers at their mercy. Herdsmen attribute the roots of the crisis to religious differences resulting in the killing of their cows while the farmers see the herdsmen as a threat to their crops and agricultural produce since the herdsmen allow their cows to feed on the farmer crops.

Despite the importance of agricultural sector to both Nigerian and  Ondo economy, its sustainability and development remains one of the biggest challenges. The challenges seem to be predicated on the rampant cases of communal conflicts between herdsmen and farmers (Ani, Chikaire, Ogueri and Arusha 2015). It is therefore not unrealistic to suggest that these communal conflicts are the bane of agricultural development. Agricultural development entails increase in agricultural output with corresponding economic benefit enjoyed by farmers from the resulting output. It is however difficult to achieve this as conflicts between grazers and farmers conflicts seem to cut down food production and supply while farmers become vulnerable to loss economically from the sale these crops (FAO, 2002; WFP 2001).

Communal conflicts between Fulani grazers and farmers have become one of the most a serious threat to agricultural development in ondo state, yet it appears to be ignored plans for agricultural development by authorities., there is emphasis on the need to ensure agricultural development by listing factors derailing development of agriculture in the state, such as reliance of traditional methods of farming, poverty and youth neglect of agriculture and reversal of the situation by introducing modern agriculture, reducing poverty and involvement of more youth in agricultural sectors.

1.2     Statement of the problem

In recent years, there have been a number of conflicts between farmers and Fulani  herdsmen in Ondo state which have culminated into violent and the loss of lives  and properties. Farmer and herdsmen crises in ondo state have created more fears in the mind of the farmers which result into farmers to abandon their farms. Also it was observed that most of the herdsmen always have the ability of destroying farmswith their cattle’s, raped women and killed the armless farmers just for them to satisfy their cattle. As a result of the above threat, the federal government came up with cattle ranching as a means of resolving the herdsmen -farmers menace and to foster peace between the herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria and ondo state in particular. Based on the above problem, the study seek to investigate cattle ranching as a panacea to  herdsmen and farmers crises  in Ondo State.


1.3     Objective of the Study

The main objective of this study  will be to   investigate the efficacy of cattle ranching as a panacea to herdsmen and farmers crises in Nigeria; but to aid the successful completion of the study, the researcher  will intend to achieve the following specific objective;

  1. to ascertain the role of cattle ranching in combatting the herdsmen/farmers crises in Ondo state
  2. to determine the  causes of Fulani Herdsmen and farmers clashes in Nigeria
  • to examine the effect of open crazing on farm produce in Ondo state
  1. to find out  the economic effects of the menace of Fulani – Herdsmen in Nigeria

1.4     Research Questions

  1. what are the roles of cattle ranching in combatting the herdsmen/farmers crises in Ondo state?
  2. what are the causes of Fulani Herdsmen and farmers clashes in Nigeria?
  • what are the merit of ranching over open grazing in cattle production?
  1. what are the economic effects of the menace of Fulani – Herdsmen in Nigeria?

1.5     Research Hypotheses

To aid the effective completion of the study, the following null hypotheses will be formulated by the researcher;

Ho1:  Cattle ranching do not result in combatting herdsmen /farmers crisis in Ondo State

Ho2:  There is no significant difference between   the  causes of Fulani Herdsmen and farmers clashes in Nigeria

Ho3   There is no significant difference between  open crazing on farm produce in Ondo state

Ho4   There is no significant difference on the economic effect of herdsmen and farmer crises in Ondo State

1.6     Significance of the Study

It is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of great importance to the house committee on agriculture and federal ministry of agriculture as the study seek to enumerate the numerous benefit of cattle ranching over open grazing as this will help in policy formation, the study will also be of importance to the security operative as the findings of the study will help them strategize to curb the menace of herdsmen farmers conflict in Benue state, the study will also be useful to researchers who intend to embark on a study in a similar topic as the study will serve as a reference point to further studies. Finally, the study will be of great importance to reporters, academia’s, students, teachers and the general public as the study will add to the pool of existing literature and also contribute to bank of knowledge in the subject matter.

1.7     Scope of the Study

This study was delimited to cattle ranches as a panancea to hardsmen and farmer crsis in Ondo State.  The researcher will use fifty farms in Ondo State.  The researcher employed self-developed close ended questionnaire was used as research instrument while simple random sampling techniques was used, the data analysis was delimited to frequency counts and simple percentage for demographic data while chi-square (X2) will be used to test hypotheses at 0.05 level of significance.

1.8 Limitation of the study

In the cause of the study, there are some factors which limited the scope of the study;

  1. a) Availability of Research Material:The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study
  2. b) Time: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
  3. c) Finance: the finance budgeted for the study was a major constraint to the scope of the study, as the researcher has limited resources at his disposal to combine both research work and other academic engagement.

1.10   Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the background of the study, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and organization of chapters. Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of findings.  Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.



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Updated: March 1, 2019 — 4:45 am

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