Nigeria’s grazing crisis threatens the future of the nation

Financial Times


Ethnic Fulani herdsmen have moved their cattle to Nigeria’s middle belt region because of population growth and desertification in the north © AFP

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Nigeria’s cattle-grazing crisis has become a national security threat, sparking ethnic tension nationwide. Amnesty International estimates that more than 2,000 deaths in 2018 alone resulted from clashes between herdsmen and farmers over access to water and pasture and the destruction of land and property — particularly belonging to farmers in the country’s middle belt region. Herdsmen from the Fulani ethnic region in the north have brought their cattle to other parts of the country to graze for generations. Climate change, rapid population growth and desertification in the north have made it difficult to breed cattle. The brutal violence has been a problem for some years. In 2014 the Global Terrorism Index judged Fulani militants to be the fourth most deadly terror group in the world, behind Boko Haram, Isis and the Taliban. Last year, Nigeria’s National Economic Council took action. It came to the conclusion that the development of designated cattle ranches would be the best solution to the problem. The ministry of agriculture also developed a National Livestock Transformation Plan to address food security and promote industrial growth. The NLTP committee, chaired by vice-president Yemi Osinbajo, also advocated ranching.


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.