Ghana’s Herders-Farmers Conflict: President Promises Action
*Considers Ranching Option
Amidst recurring deaths from clashes,President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said his administration is devising measures to address the long-standing-conflict between nomadic herdsmen and local residents permanently.
Speaking recently at a meeting with leaders of nomadic herdsmen communities of Fulani extraction, the President expressed concerns about the persistent clashes describing it as worrying.
There have been a number of clashes between nomadic herdsmen and local farmers that have in some cases led to injuries, death and destruction of property.
Tensions escalated recently in the Asante Akyem North District of the Ashanti Region after four security personnel, including three military officers and a police officer, who had been deployed to the area to evict nomadic herdsmen and their cattle, were shot by an unknown assailant at Agogo.
The government had dispatched about 200 personnel drawn from the military and police service to the Asante Akyem North and Sekyere Afram Plains districts, to flush out nomadic herdsmen who were reportedly terrorizing farmers.
Hundreds of cattle were killed, while some of the herders and their cattle were evicted from the Asante Akyem North, into the Sekyere District.
Other incidents that occurred at Dwerebeafe, Aboyan and Mpeamu in the Kwahu East District between nomadic herdsmen believed to be of Fulani extraction and some farmers, reportedly led to the death of nine persons.
The President however reiterated government’s commitment to working with leaders of communities of nomadic herdsmen to bring these clashes to an end.
“It is important that I speak frankly to you. Everybody in this country has been disturbed by the activities of ‘Fulani herdsmen’. You hear about reports from different parts of the country, Volta Region, Ashanti Region is very disturbing and therefore finding a solution is one of the big concerns of my government. “
“When Kufuor was here ten years ago, he began to work hard to resolve the problem and unfortunately he had to go and the government went with him, but we are back and we are determined to find a solution that will protect everybody, the herdsmen, the cattle and the community in which they work because if we do not have the understanding of having to work together , it becomes very difficult. I want to thank you for the courage and sense of responsibility in coming here and this is commendable,” the President told the community leaders at a meeting at the Flagstaff House.
At the meeting, it was decided that a special task-force will be set up to ensure that persons fueling these clashes are dealt with.
“I am very encouraged by the offer of the task-force. They will work together in your community and the law enforcement agencies to make sure anybody who wants to misbehave is dealt with appropriately.”
“I feel very strongly the statement made by the spokesperson that there are herdsmen everywhere and whenever they misbehave they say Fulani Herdsmen and it is a pity that that should be the case and that is why we have to make sure the matter changes.”
Meanwhile,the Eastern Regional Minister, Eric Kwakye Darfour, has asked the government to accelerate work on the proposed National Cattle Ranching document.
This document will among others come up with the best ways to end incessant clashes between peasant farmers and herdsmen.
Speaking recently, the Minister said if the document is generated and passed into law, the sporadic clashes would be curbed.
“The government has tasked about four ministries to produce a national cattle Ranching document that will be sent to parliament to be approved or pushed into a law such that whoever rears cattle in Ghana, would have to abide by that document, but that has not come out yet” he said.
The conflict between herdsmen and peasant farmers in some parts of the country in the past, has led to the loss of lives, property and farm produce.
In recent times, nine persons have died from such clashes at Dwerebeafe, Aboyan and Mpeamu in the Kwahu East District of the Eastern Region.
Eric Kwakye Darfour has asked local authorities in the region to come out with by-laws for the time being that will help minimize clashes between crop farmers and herdsmen.
“In the meantime, I have asked my MMDCEs to also come out with bylaws, bring it to the state attorney, they will look into it, if it doesn’t infringe on our national constitution, they will send it back to the assembly members who will adopt them and they will become a working document that will be used to regulate cattle rearing in various jurisdictions, otherwise we do not have specific laws which will readily come into place to regulate” he said
He said cattle rearing has become a crucial part of Ghana’s agriculture economy hence the need to regulate and sanitize the sector.