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1.1        Background to the Study

Food insecurity and armed conflict are two major problems that have aroused the attention of international institutions, political analysts, and governments in the country.  Over several decades, resources have been mobilized to reduce the number of hunger in the world, particularly in developing countries.

Nigeria as a nation state is under a severe internal socio-economic and security threat. At a more general level, the threat has special economic, political and environmental dimensions. Each of these dimensions has greatly affected the nation’s stability and can be traced to the Fulani-herdsmen crisis, ethnic militant armies, ethnic and religious conflicts, poverty, insurgency, armed robbery, corruption, economic sabotage and environmental degradation [Damba, 2007].

Farmer-herdsmen conflict has remained the most influential resource-use conflict in Nigeria (Rashid 2012). Fulani and farmers co-existed for a long period but such coexistence has never been without tension because it demands an alternative dispute resolution of rival interests. Conflict can break out suddenly when livestock is poorly controlled and when herds wander on to cultivated fields. This has always had a tendency to occur at critical periods in the annual cycle, particularly during sowing when herds are late in leaving agricultural lands and during harvests, if they return too early. Clashes occur when agricultural activities hinder the movement of herds and cut off their access to water or pastures (Shetima and Usman 2008). 

Agricultural and development experts are unanimous in their predictions that the gains recorded in the agricultural sector of the economy, especially in the area of food production, may suffer a serious setback as a result of the negative effects of terrorist activities on farmers in Delta state and neighboring states. The effects of the sustained Fulani war in the affected localities have led to farmers’ reluctance to go back to their farms even as the current farming season is far gone. In Benue state, for example, women from Guma and Gwer west local governments have stayed away from farms for fear of being killed or raped by the murderers. Several retaliation attacks have continued to occur, which had led to heavy loss human lives and properties recorded on both sides. For example, current intake may be adequate, but food insecurity may still be experienced because of concern over future intake. Alternatively, intake may be inadequate, but only temporarily to protect supplies and prevent future food insecurity (Wolfe and Frongillo, 2001).

Every farming system has a boundary which separates it from the larger system that makes up the environment. Conflicts and violent clashes between farmers and nomadic cattle herders have been a common feature of economic livelihood in West Africa (Tonah, 2006). The boundary represents the limits in the larger system. Farmers regularly compete with nomadic herders for farmland, pastures, water, trees and the use of rangeland in general (Akpaki, 2002). There have been violent clashes between nomadic herdsmen and farmers in several parts of Nigeria for several years. The clashes are occasioned by the destruction of agricultural farms of the farmers by the cattle of the nomadic herdsmen. The upsurge and incessant resource conflicts witnessed as a result of boundary dispute in the tropics have resulted in loss of lives, properties and environmental degradation as also witnessed in some developed countries (Niemella, Young, Alard, Askasibar, Henle, Johnson, Kuttila, Larsson, Matouch, Nowicki, Paiva, Portoghesi, Smulders, Stevenson, Tartes & Watt, 2005). Naturally, nomadic herdsmen by their nature are migrants who leave their traditional abode in search of greener pasture for their flocks. In most cases, their movement is caused by the absence of good and veritable land for their flock to feed on. The environmental degradation is perceived to be contributing enormously to the deterioration in ecosystem services to the environment of various communities. In the recent times, Nigeria has witnessed series of violent communal clashes arising from the activities of the nomadic herdsmen who move about on a daily basis with their cattle in search of water and green pastures.

They are on the streets in most of the cities and could also be found operating in the remotest villages in various states of the country. These nomads who are essentially Fulani tribesmen were originally found in small make-shift communities scattered across the northern fringes of Nigeria and other countries in West Africa.  Nzeh, (2015) maintained that in their culture, tradition and occupation, nomadic herdsmen have not remained a migrant race who does not own lands nor have any permanent abode. To him, they cared less about land ownership because they are always on the move. This practice which has been established as a culture by the Nomads had before now been observed with the highest ethical standards whereby the herded animals were prevented from grazing on crops. The fact still remains that these nomadic herdsmen care less about land ownership because they are always on the move. The nomads used to embark on seasonal migrations from the North to the South but this movement has become an all season‘s affair. The reason has been that overgrazing in the far north has given way to desertification and the normal alternating wet and dry seasons have metamorphosed into some unusual weather conditions now known as climate change. Ofem and Inyang (2014) revealed that a symbiotic relationship existed before now between the nomads and the farmers in every new community they stopped over to take a rest. The residents of host communities usually farmers derived free organic manure from cow dung and protein from the beef and dairy products, while the nomads relied on the farm produce for food.  In Nigeria, most herdsmen do not own land but graze their livestock in host communities (Awogbade, 1987). While a few have adopted the more sedentary type of animal husbandry, the increasing crises between farmers and nomadic herdsmen presupposes that grazing is a major means of animal rearing in Nigeria. The sedentary type of animal husbandry also proves to be more expensive, difficult to manage and inefficient for the rapid growing market of an ever increasing Nigerian population. However, over the years, the presence of the nomads and their cattle has provoked violent clashes in several communities across the country. Some farmers practicing mixed farming revealed that this animals have in one way or another affected their farming, likewise sedentary pastoralists were in one way or the other affected by farmers (Nformi, Mary-Juliet, Engwali, & Nji, 2014).

This shows that the issue of farmer-nomadic herdsmen conflict is more or less shared problem. Therefore, this may not warrant isolating the farmers or even the pastoralists into ethnic or regional groupings for the sake of issuing blames on any as the case may be. Nigeria is experiencing a historic demographic expansion and a spectacular change in food habits. With a population growth nearing 2.8% per year, according to NPC 2006, the country‘s own domestic production is far from being able to meet demand. Nigeria is however expected to have a population of over 398 million which is more than the population of Pakistan and Brazil in 2050 (PRB, 2016). At the federal level, livestock operations contribute only about 5% of GDP, whereas agriculture as a whole contributes 35% of GDP as reported by CBN (2013). Following the foregoing discussion, one can see why it is difficult for both the nomads and host communities to co-exist without problems. This is because, as the nomadic herdsmen are busy trying to protect their herds and make livelihood from their sales, the residents of host communities need to protect their farms which these animals upon migration use as grazing land. In recent times, the issue of violent clashes and instability between farmers and nomadic herdsmen across the regions in Nigeria has become a major focus to the Nigerian Government, International and National or indigenous development organizations. This to a large extent, if not halted at an early stage,  may affect the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 2 which aims at ending hunger, achieving food security and improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture by 2030. The clashes, instead of diminishing have been increasing quickly by large amounts to the dismay of helpless Nigerians..  It is against this background that this study is conducted to investigate the effects of Fulani herdsmen-farmers crisis on food security in Abraka region. 

1.2        Statement of the problem

Nigeria is seriously threatened by Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis and therefore, considered to be a major potential threat affecting Nigerians mostly on the part of socio-economic activities of the country (Egodi, 2010). The Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis is posing a serious obstacle to a successful national economy. Fulani herdsmen and farmers has become a major threat to the national security and development of Nigeria due to the fact that its increased operation has caused diversion and removed government attention on some key areas of the economy, as huge amount of human and material resources are channeled into curbing the menace (Egodi, 2010).

Conflict is a great predicament in any human society, and most times, it is predictable. In fact, history indicates that conflict is an on-going process in human relations and may occur within and among groups and communities. In the case of Nigeria, the frequent occurrence of Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis has left adverse effects on food security and socio-economic development of the people (Damba, 2007). In the course of these conflicts, farmers have at certain times, taken up weapons to counter the attacks from the Fulani herdsmen, claiming to do so in self-defense. The study conducted by Kassam (2016) gave an overview of the general concept and causes of conflicts in Nigeria and, advocates for ethical principles such as the common solidarity of humanity by origin, forgiveness and tolerance that could engender cordiality and understanding rather than sustained hostility and suspicion in Fulani herdsmen and farmers relation in Nigeria.

Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis no doubt have negative impact on the lives, property, food security and educational development in Nigeria. Though, there is the dearth of quantitative evaluation of the catastrophic attacks, available statistics has it that between June 2015 to December, 2016 Human Rights Watch in 2017, reported a total death toll of 65 persons in more than 24 attacks. It was also reported that an estimate of 50 people were killed in Nasarawa Egor (Nasarawa State) and Agatu/Logo (Benue State) in the June 2016 and recently lives were claimed in Abraka in the April 23rd 2017 crisis between Fulani herdsmen and farmers. Fulani herdsmen attack apart from the loss of lives has also led to the destruction of arable farmland and valuable properties worth several billions of naira.

The above scenario has dire consequences for sustainable and educational development in the regions of attack in particular and Nigeria in general. In the regions where the Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis is pervasive and the property destroyed potentially and in real terms, drag their economic fortune back by several steps. Besides the property destroyed, economic life in those regions is automatically grounded to a halt. People are no longer free to go about their farming, economic and educational activities for fear of being killed. This is made worse as several thousands of people have migrated swiftly to other parts of Nigeria. The overall implication for sustainable development is that the farming, economic and educational activities are fast deteriorating. The murderous campaigns and vicious onslaughts on individuals and institutions provide highly unfavorable business environment for internal and foreign investment, which is a major factor in the achievement of sustainable development (Damba, 2007).

Another major problem posed by Fulani and herdsmen and farmers clash is that farming activities in some parts of Nigeria has been put to a halt. Farmers within this region find it hard to go to their farms as well as to get enough food crops to the market thereby, increasing price of commodity in the market. The government has spent huge amount of money on the renovation of buildings, and infrastructures that has been destroyed by these religious conflicts. Also, huge amount of funds from the country’s budget has been spent on the compensation of families who have lost their loved ones to the Fulani-herdsmen and farmers crisis. Also, huge amount of money is being spent on the acquisition weapons, ammunition in other to equip the military to handle the situation on ground. All these have affected Nigeria’s economy.

Again, in Abraka the recent Fulani-herdsmen and farmers clash which took place on 23rd April, 2017 at Abraka reserve have caused serious damage to farmlands, claimed life and disrupt the socio-economic activities of the people of people leading to increase in the price of food items and commodities. Problems emanated from fear of Fulani herdsmen since people can no longer go to farms and walk at night. This has disrupted the peaceful coexistence of the Hausa people and indigenes of Abraka community. All these have form the basis for the problem stated in this study, and this research work focuses on the effects of Fulani herdsmen-farmers crisis on food security in Abraka region.

1.3     Objectives of the Study         

        The aim of this study is to examine the effects of Fulani herdsmen crisis on food security in Nigeria. The overall purpose of the study is to analyze the effect of Fulani herdsmen crisis on food security in the country. Specifically, the objectives of the study include to;

1.            Assess the causes of the Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis in the middle belt.

2.            Evaluate the effect of Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis on food security in Nigeria

1.4     Research Question

     The following research questions are formulated to guide this research:

1.            What are the causes of Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis on food security in Nigeria?

2.            What is the effect of Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis on food security in Nigeria?

1.5        Research Hypothesis

HO1 There is no significant difference between farmers and Fulani perception of the causes of Fulani – Herdsmen and farmers clashes in Nigeria.

HO2There is no significant difference between farmers and Fulani perception of the effects (social and economic) of Fulani – Herdsmen and farmers clashes in Nigeria.

1.6         Scope of the study

The study remains a research on Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis on food security in Nigeria: case study of Abraka L.G.A, Delta state. Therefore the scope of this project is limited to Abraka L.G.A, Delta state. The time period analyzed was a year 2018, because the year opened up a major crisis in Abraka L.G.A, Delta state.

1.7     Significance of the study    

This study is basically produced to fulfill an academic requirement. Nevertheless, it is hoped that it would go a long way to encourage more meaningful development efforts on issues relating to the effects of Fulani herdsmen-farmers crisis on food security in Abraka region.

This study is not intended to break an entire new ground, rather, it is undertaken in the premise that it will add to the existing literature in the area of geography. In addition this study is very necessary especially at this point of Nigeria’s development, when there is massive increase in the need to map and study the infrastructural development of an area.

This work is expected to guide geographers, educationists, scientists, planners, engineers, architects, environmentalists, etc, and all those whose livelihood are affected to gain understanding of how Fulani herdsmen-farmers crisis can affect food security. However, the findings will also provide useful background information to future research in the contribution of geography education towards nation building.

1.8     Study area

Abraka lies approximately on latitude 050 481 North of the equator and on longitude 06o 061 east of the Greenwich meridian. It is situated at the Eastern Bank of River Ethiope in Ethiope East Local Government Area of Delta State in the Niger Delta zone of Southern Nigeria. It is bounded to the North by Orhionwon Local Government Area of Edo State, and to the East and South by Ukwani Local Government Area and the Ughelli North Local Government Area respectively and lastly, the Ika Local Government Area bounds her western boundary. The region of Abraka has a total land area of 21.2 square kilometer (Akinbode and Ugbomeh, 2006).

The boundary, size and location of Abraka is such that favours cattle grazing and farm practices at the same time. This has prompted Fulani herdsmen to migrate from the north to Abraka for cattle grazing which has in turn resulted to serious clash between herdsmen and farmers in various quarters that make up Abraka clan. This crisis in recent times has led to increase in food items and food insecurity in Abraka. 

1.9     Organisation Of The Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding it is broken down as follows:

Chapter one kicks off with the introduction, which consists of the background of the study, statement of the problem, objectives of the study, research hypothesis, scope and significance of the study.

Chapter two begins with the conceptual framework on which the study is based, the theoretical literatures and also the empirical literature and thus the review of related literature.

 Chapter three deals on the research design, the population of the state used as a case study, the sample size and the sampling techniques used, the data collected, data analysis and the limitations of the method used.

 Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis, interpretation and presentation of finding.

 Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.

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