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Mitigating farmer-herder clashes through NAITS‍

Although the violent farmer-herder clashes in Nigeria is primarily a production challenge, it has metamorphosed over time to gain political and religious facets. The compounding effect of this crises on the socio-economic landscape in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. Due to the complex nature of the livestock industry in Nigeria, the farmer-herder clashes in Nigeria can be traced back in history from centuries ago.

According to Ismail (1994), the Fulani Herdsmen are nomadic Herders whose history can be traced to the Futa Jalon Mountains of West Africa and whose primary occupation is raising live stocks. They are largely located in the Sahel and semiarid parts of West Africa, but due to changes in climate patterns, many herdsmen have moved further south into the Savannah and Tropical Forest Belt of West Africa. Fulani Herdsmen are found in countries such as Nigeria, Senegal, Cameroon etc. The history of Fulani Herdsmen in Nigeria dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries when they started migrating into northern Nigeria from Senegambia Region.

After the Uthman Dan Fodio Jihad, the Fulani integrated into the Hausa ethnic group of Northern Nigeria. During the dry season when tse tse fly population was reduced, Fulani Herdsmen began to drive their cattle to the middle belts zone dominated by non-Hausa groups, returning to the north at the onset of the rainy season. But while managing the herds and driving cattle, cattle grazing on farmlands sometimes leads to the destruction of crops, becoming a source of conflict between the herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria.

With the introduction of the National Animal Identification and Traceability System (NAITS) a standard principle on identification and traceability of live animals will be established. Through this system, animals that encroach on farmlands can easily be tracked using the code on the ear tag to identify the owner of the animals and also their current location. NAITS will be used to prevent indiscriminate grazing of farmlands and ensure prompt and adequate compensation for farmers whose crops have been damaged by grazing livestock. NAITS presents an opportunity to present the livestock industry and trading partners with a credible system for the identification and traceability of livestock and products of animal origin. This system will go a long way in preventing violent clashes that emerge as a result of migration.