Open Grazing

Pottal Fii Bhantal Foutah–Djallon (Union for the Development of Fouta Djallon), a United States-based Fulani cultural association has suggested small-scale ranching and dialogue as a panacea to the perennial herders/farmers crises in Nigeria.

The organization which is dedicated to the emancipation of the Foutah-Djallon and Fulani mainly in Guinea and other African countries noted that there was a need for all stakeholders to come together in tackling the circle of violence in the West African sub-region.

In an interview, Bashir Bah, secretary of the union noted that there can be a technical solution to the farmers and herders’ problem in Nigeria if the government comes up with an enabling environment. He said: “Providing extensive cattle grazing area, having a large farm and bringing in food instead of having cattle moving around the environment will go a long way in taming the herdsmen and agricultural problem.

“You grow the food for the cattle, and you can get the by-product from the cattle as fertilizers, that has worked well in many countries, especially in the United States.

“Besides that, you know there are larger issues than the technical issues, there is the issue of global warming, leaves drying up in the traditional lands of the herdsmen, and they may move, that will create some conflicts, but it is up to the government to find ways to settle these conflicts and not to allow them to flare up as ethnic fighting, almost leading to civil war,” the secretary said.

According to Bah, “Political leaders including all the stakeholders, traditional leaders, representatives of the herdsmen, the agriculture farming community, need to get together and find a solution; there should be no conflict. There is conflict because there is no respect for the law, and there have not been laws put forward and neither do we have real policies to address these issues.”

Bah also accused some powerful people of being behind the debacle, “So we cannot escape the manipulation behind the conflict. Who has an interest in the conflict, who is behind those providing the weapons, we don’t make weapons in Africa; these people carry machine guns, where do they get them from?

“They have powerful economic and political people in the shadows that should be exposed in order to stop people from killing each other without reason.”

Speaking further on the issue of ranching, he said, ranching is very costly, adding that Nigeria should not import the American style of ranching. But because of the conflict, “ranching at a small level, not this big American style will help a lot. But it needs a central policy where people talk to each other with the law as the guidance and also tackle the economic saboteurs that are manipulating the issue.”

Bah explained that their organization, in conjunction with Tabitat Pubaku International, the umbrella organization for all Fulani at home and in Diaspora, is working to bring peace between communities all around the world.

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