VIOLENT CONFLICTS OVER LAND RESOURCES AND DECLINING AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITY IN BENUE STATE: ANY LINK?
Keywords:Agriculture, resource conflict, farmers, herders, productivity
The paper argued that the incessant violent conflicts over land resources by herders and farmers are responsible for the decline in agricultural productivity in Benue state of north-central Nigeria between 2015 and 2022. To support this argument, the paper deployed Human Needs Theory (HNT) as a theoretical guide and generated data using mixed methods approach with quantitative dominance. Research hypotheses were tested at 5% level of significance using non-parametric statistics (chi-square). From the test of research hypothesis, the paper revealed that the incessant violent conflicts over land resources were responsible for the decline in the level of agricultural productivity in Benue state. Based on this finding, the paper concluded that agricultural productivity of farmers in the state may further decline as long as these violent conflicts are not amicably and permanently resolved for the restoration of peace in the various agrarian communities in the state. Based on the finding and conclusion drawn, the paper recommended that open grazing of cattle, which has been identified as the major trigger of the conflict should be discouraged through a legislation; cattle ranching should be encouraged by governments at all levels. However, the herders should not be compelled to abandon their traditional practice of transhumance but convinced to do so and encouraged to embrace modern methods of animal husbandry which are less laborious and more profitable. Also, there is an urgent need by the federal government to provide more security across Nigeria’s land borders to guard against the influx of armed criminals posing as herders into the country.
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