Ganduje blames climate change for farmers-herders conflict
By Yemi Olakitan
Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State has blamed climate change, for the farmers-herders clashes.
He mentioned this during the Kano State Government-hosted National Conference on Livestock Reforms and Conflict Mitigation.
The theme of the conference was “Sustainable Livestock Reforms and Mitigating Associated Conflicts in Nigeria.” Ganduje said the summit will limit cow movements, enhance livestock productivity, and end violent herder-farmer clashes.
Over 500 experts from academics, development partners, agro industry, livestock management, veterinary, and conflict resolution attended the event.
The Kano State Governor praised Prof. Attahiru Jega, the conference organizing committee chairman, for his leadership.
He said the conference was needed to resolve the age-old herder-farmer issue and offer ways to expand the industry economically.
He said the conference’s theme was suitable given Nigeria’s ongoing security issues. Farmers and cattle herders had fought for land rights for years, Ganduje said.
“But the disputes have reached crisis levels in recent years, killing dozens and displacing many thousands more with their homes left in ruins by attacks.
Farmers and herders traditionally worked together. “They shared produce and resolved issues using established organizations and methods.
“However, over the past few decades, a wide range of reasons have resulted in tensions often resulting in deadly violent clashes between the two groups,” Ganduje said.
Climate change caused desertification, and soil erosion caused competition for natural resources. Ganduje claimed this drove herders to different pastures.
“Drifting away from traditional migratory patterns and intruding on farming grounds has reinforced unfavorable sentiments, often stigmatizing nomadic people as cultural and religious intruders.
Climate change reduces arable land, causing cycles of violence and straining farmer-herder interactions.
“While herders have had to adjust their trans-humance routes along which they transport livestock from one grazing place to another on a seasonal basis, farmers allege herders are infringing on their land,” Ganduje said.
Second, state institutions and infrastructures were weak.He claimed this had prevented governments from controlling their regions, enforcing the law, and providing official channels for peaceful dispute resolution.
Ganduje said trans-humance politics also showed how political elites may manipulate herder-farmer tensions.
He stated this was frequently done to further their objectives, expand land ownership, and control big herds for economic and political reasons, compromising both populations’ livelihoods.
He hoped conference subjects will reveal key causes of the situation.
He noted that while the teething difficulties between herders and farmers that were disregarded over the years snowballed into armed bandits terrorizing the country, it was still possible to develop plans and tactics to decrease the disputes.
Ranching, which had become politicized, was the only solution to existential issues, he argued.
He stated this was especially true because pastoralists would have grazing land without cattle infringing on crops.
“We have gone far in establishing Ruga Settlement in Kano, already 25 house units out of the anticipated 500, situated on 4, 413 hectres of land at Dansoshiya Forest in Kiru local government have been constructed and turned over to the herders.
A conference exhibition will feature replicas of the houses. “Modernizing the cattle business is not only crucial to addressing the herder-farmer conflict.
Ganduje stated this economic investment pillar would promote and strengthen market-driven ranches for improved livestock production through breed improvement and pasture productivity.
To reduce these disputes, knowledge, education, and strategic communication on grazing reserve development were needed.
He added that we must prevent these disputes from becoming religious or ethnic. Political, religious, and other Nigerian leaders are responsible for this.
“We must also enhance existing engagement with our neighbors, especially border towns, to prevent small weapons movement and disarm armed pastoralists and bandits who cross our borders everyday.
“Predominantly nomadic pastoralists should be persuaded to shift their animals into established ranches and public grazing reserves.”
Ganduje said breeding farms and other mechanized livestock management would boost sector productivity.
He advised the government to create community social capital to build trust, confidence, and peace. He suggested using the law and order pillar to strengthen legislative frameworks for cattle production, peace, and harmony.
He added that the summit would generate a working paper that would reduce herder-farmer conflict in the country. He promised that the Kano State administration will analyze the conference document and work with the Federal Government and other stakeholders to implement.