The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) in collaboration with its development partners dragged stakeholders to a summit to find lasting solutions to the clash between farmers and herders across the nation and create peaceful coexistence and food and nutrition security.
Speaking during the summit in Abuja, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar said that the summit, themed “Promoting Peace and Climate Security in the Crop and Livestock farming Sectors” provided the opportunity for dialogue and discourse on the way forward, to achieve peaceful coexistence between crop farmers and livestock herders whose incessant clashes in the region threaten food and national security.
Abubakar stated that the recent surge in the age-long conflict was attributed 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, as well as factors like the rapidly rising population of humans and livestock, diminishing arable and grazing lands, among others.
He pointed out that the farmers-herders conflict predated the existence of Nigeria as an independent, sovereign nation, noting that it was a conflict that the previous and current generations of farmers and herders, especially rural dwellers, have come to know and managed properly using traditional methods.
“The dimensions it has taken lately call for deep introspection into the causes of the heightened, unwarranted attacks by both actors in the conflict and more innovative ways of addressing it,” he said.
He revealed that 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 regions of Nigeria, it 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.
The minister commended the organisers of the event, the ministry and its partners, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and others, for creating opportunities for dialogue, strengthening peace-building mechanisms, investing in initiatives that foster economic interdependence between herders and farmers as well as fostering social protection measures against sensitive conflicts in the country.
In a goodwill message, the chairman, House Committee on Agricultural Production and Services, Hon. Muntari Dandutse said that the summit was timely, especially at this critical time when the world is faced with lots of challenges in food production, citing the Ukraine-Russian issues as an example.
He stated that Federal Government is doing a lot to solve the conflict between farmers and herders by supporting the state government. “Unfortunately, it has not trickled down”.
Muntari, therefore, emphasised the need for funds for state governments to be utilised effectively, down to the local government level.
In her remarks, the Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory, Dr. Ramatu Tijani Aliyu said the upsurge in the conflict between farmers and herders also posed a threat to peaceful co-existence between communities.
A statement by the ministry’s director of information and signed by Mrs. Anthonia Eremah said some of the highlights of the event was the interactive session, inspection and exhibition of dairy products.