EFFECT OF FULANI-HERDSMEN AND FARMERS CRISIS ON FOOD SECURITY IN ABRAKA, DELTA STATE-NIGERIA
1.1 Background to the Study
The Fula people also known as Fulani in Hausa language, are a mass population widely dispersed and culturally diverse in all of Africa, but most predominant in West Africa. The Fulani’s generally speak the Fula language. A significant number of them are nomadic in nature, herding cattle, goats and sheep across the vast dry grass lands of their environment, keeping isolate from the local farming communities, making them the world’s largest pastoral nomadic group (Eyekpimi, 2016). They are massively spread over many countries, and are found mainly in West Africa and northern parts of Central Africa, but also in Sudan and Egypt. The main Fulani sub-groups in Nigeria are: Fulbe Adamawa, Fulbe Mbororo, Fulbe Sokoto, Fulbe Gombe, and the Fulbe Borgu (Eyekpimi, 2016).
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 and farmers clash, ethnic militant armies, ethnic and religious conflicts, poverty, insurgency, armed robbery, corruption, economic sabotage and environmental degradation (Damba, 2007).
Food security is a condition related to the supply of food, and individuals’ access to it. Concerns over food security have existed throughout history. There is evidence of Granaries being in use over 10,000 years ago, with central authorities in civilizations including ancient China and ancient Egypt being known to release food from storage in times of famine (Illufoye, 2009). At the 1974 World Food Conference the term “food security” was defined with an emphasis on supply. Food security, they said, is the “availability at all times of adequate world food supplies of basic foodstuffs to sustain a steady expansion of food consumption and to offset fluctuations in production and prices” (United Nations, 2013). Later definitions added demand and access issues to the definition. The final report of the 1996 World Food Summit states that food security “exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (United Nations, 2015).
Household food security exists when all members, at all times, have access to enough food for an active, healthy life (USDA, 2008). Individuals who are food secure do not live in hunger or fear of starvation (FAO, 2006). Food insecurity, on the other hand, is a situation of “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways”, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) (2008). Food security incorporates a measure of resilience to future disruption or unavailability of critical food supply due to various risk factors including droughts, shipping disruptions, fuel shortages, economic instability, and wars (Boeing, 2016). In the years 2011-2017 (FAO, 2017), an estimated 842 million people were suffering from chronic hunger (FAO, 2017). The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, or FAO, identified the four pillars of food security as availability, access, utilization, and stability (FAO, 2009). The United Nations (UN) recognized the Right to Food in the Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, (United Nations, 2015) and has since noted that it is vital for the enjoyment of all other rights (United Nations, 2015).
Violent conflict and crisis in Nigeria, like other parts of the world, have created a rift in human relations, caused serious threat to food security, among many other effects (Basil, 2015). Crisis is inevitable as long as we live together, especially in a multi-ethnic, cultural and religious community like Nigeria. However violence leaves us with various forms of retardation and underdevelopment resulting from the destruction of lives, farmland and property. The menaces of violent crisis conflict have been on the increase in some most Nigerian cities in the last two decades (Ilufoye, 2009). Most of these conflicts are generally regarded as ethno-religious bigotry and antagonism.
According to Kassam (2014) and Basil (2015), 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. The conflict has had devastating effects on inter-group relationships especially in Nasarawa Egor in Nasarawa State and Agatu L.G.A of Benue State. Apart from the loss of lives, farmlands, food produce and property, it has profound influence on residential relationships, leading to new trends in the polarization of communities. This is evident in a physical manifestation of mono religious areas in Nasarawa and Benue States, with Christians and Muslims living in dominant religious clusters(Eyekpemi, 2016).
Recent studies conducted by Basil (2015) and Ekpeyemi (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 agricultural farmlands 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 recent attacks by Fulani herdsmen is on the increase, with the most recent attacks in June 2016 occurring in Ossissa community in Ndokwa East and Abraka community in Ethiope East Local Government Areas of Delta State and three more communities (Ugondo, Turan, Gabo Nenzev) in Logo Local Government Area, Benue State, total killings involving no fewer than 60 persons (Ekpeyemi, 2016). The Federal Government recently ordered an inquiry, military crackdown on the group and affirmed its plans to establish cattle ranches as a solution to the frequent clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria (Basil, 2015). 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. Farmers now go to farm armed with weapons for defense in case of attack (Ekpeyemi, 2016).
Recently, several deaths and casualties have been recorded in series of clash between Fulnai herdsmen and farmers. Most people attribute the clash between Fulani Herdsmen and Farmers to religious differences between the Muslims or Islam’s and the Christians(Basil, 2015). Several farmlands have been destroyed due to conflict erupting between farmers and herdsmen. 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. Evidences have shown that herdsmen and farmers clash in several parts of Nigeria especially in the Nassarawa, Delta, Edo, and Benue states could be due to differences in religious background between the herdsmen and farmers. Several lives and farmlands been destroyed in this crisis (Ekpeyemi, 2016). Recently, in Abraka Fulani herdsmen attacked farmers at the farm and claimed one life which prompted the indigenes of Abraka to riot. It was due to this saga that the Ovie of Abraka Kingdom (HRM Akpomedaye Majoroh II) declared state of emergency on the 23rd of April, 2017 on the Fulani herdsmen and farmers clash in a bid to restore peace to the community. 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 Aim and Objectives of the Study
The aim of this study is to examine the effects of Fulani herdsmen-farmers crisis on food security in Abraka region. The specific objectives include to;
examine the causes of Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis in Abraka region;
ascertain the level of awareness of Abraka people on issues relating to food security in the area;
examine the level of food availability and accessibility as a result of Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis in Abraka region;
evaluate the effect of Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis on food security in Abraka region;
discuss the management options of the Fulani herdsmen and farmers crisis as it affects food security in Abraka.
1.4 Research Hypotheses
The following research hypotheses were tested in this study;
The crises between Fulani-herdsmen and farmers is not significantly depended on grazing of crops, depletion of vegetation in the north and harsh climate.
The crisis between Fulani herdsmen and farmers has no significant effect on food security in Abraka region.
There is no significant difference in the level of awareness of the people on issues relating to food security in Abraka region.
1.5 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.
1.6 STUDY AREA
1.6.1 Location and Size
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 favors 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.