As part of efforts to enhance food security and livelihoods, crop farmers, traditional authorities and herders in the Gushegu municipal Assembly have agreed to end hostilities.
In Ghana, security forces are struggling to contain clashes between farmers and nomadic Fulani herdsmen. Complaints lodged against Ghana's Fulani nomadic herdsmen include accusations of rape, armed robbery and the destruction of farmlands. Relations between local residents and the nomadic herdsmen are tense and hopes of peaceful coexistence appear at the moment to be slim.
In line with this, the Ghana Developing Communities Association (GDCA) using advocacy as a strategy under the PASAO project organized a day's media and municipal stakeholders workshop at Gushegu to dialogue on how to effectively handle and manage herder-farmer relationships in the Gushegu Municipal Assembly.
This was to facilitate in minimizing conflicts between herders and crop farmers to enhance food security and improve livelihood. Crop farmers blamed the situation on the felling of trees and the destruction of farm crops by Fulanis, the allocation of lands to Fulani herdsmen by traditional authorities without consulting community elders, bush burning, and harvesting of farm produce by the herdsmen to feed their animals, among others.
The herders responding to the comments noted that they are not criminals as people perceive them to be, adding that ''It is true nomads sometimes have their cattle straying into people farms, but the local farmers often kill the cattle instead of reporting the destruction to the cattle owners and that is how conflicts often begin."
Echoing the sentiments of his fellow herdsmen, another herder said: "Herdsmen sometimes have to carry guns to protect their cattle, but a very small minority use these guns for robbery. There are just a few bad ones among us, all we want the authorities to do is to come and talk to us to help identify those who are committing crimes''.
Security officials in Ghana are cracking down on migrant Fulani herdsmen, accusing them of rape, vandalism, destruction of farms and armed robbery, but conflict resolution specialists say the herdsmen are being manipulated and the government must abide by regional right-of-passage laws.
'The Ministry of Agriculture needs to engage with Fulani herdsmen and implement the ECOWAS protocol rather than treating them like criminals,' the programmes manager of PASAO project said.
The workshop was organized under the PASAO project to create dialogue and understanding among stakeholders in the livestock sector in the municipal, to promote understanding among stakeholders by correcting perceptions and misconceptions about the activities of herders in the municipal.
It was also to give the media a good perspective on the issues on the ground to contribute to responsible and informed reporting and as well to facilitate peaceful co-existence between herders and communities in the municipality.
The workshop was attended by crop farmers, herders/ livestock producers, livestock traders, the security and representatives from the Gushegu Assembly.
BY: LILIAN D. WALTER