By Fidel Amakye Owusu

At the heart of stability in Africa is sustainable agriculture.

1. Agriculture life in Africa has been around for millennia after communities in the continent transitioned from hunter-gatherer status to crop growing and pastoral life. Egyptian records are clear on early agriculture in the Nile valley.

2. Even though some few “isolated” groups like the pygmies still live as hunters and gatherers, the continent is traditionally made up of groups who are economically dominated by either pastoralism or sedentary crop growing.

3. With vast land and the idea of self-sufficiency—augment by some form of batter trading before the use of different standards of exchange (money)—disputes over the economic use of land had not been a problem initially. Yes, Kingdoms had invaded other Kingdoms and weaker communities; but inter-ethnic use of land was confrontational.

4. Sedentary farmers grew different staples as pastoralists kept livestock. Fishing and hunting happened. Regardless, local laws and taboos regulated these activities. For eample, you could not farm or fish on some “sacred” days.

5. Colonialism and the demand for some raw materials in Europe and elsewhere gradually changed this state of affair.

6. Furthermore, European powers in order to strengthen their control, had influenced or directly given some groups advantages in the ownership of lands in Africa. This had disrupted the economic balance in many places. In some places European settlers took lands.

7. And so what?

8. Currently, much of the inter-ethnic conflicts across Africa—accounting for majority of lost lives—are in one way or the other connected with land and its usage.

9. The Fulani-Hausa clashes in Nigeria, the Fulani-Dogon clashes in Mali, the Lendu-Hema conflict in the DRC, the Dinka-Nuer conflagration in South Sudan are all examples of such inter-ethnic clashes over agriculture land; more or less.

10. In most cases, pastoralists are struggling with crop growers over land. Cattle are increasingly destroying crops. Macabre conflicts result.

11. Population expansion and the consciousness of the scarcity of land in the very near future have therefore made groups across the continent sensitive to land.

12. Climate change has exacerbated the problem. With fast changing weather patterns and rapid desertification pastoralists who are often the closest to the more arid regions are moving into the lower Savannah and forest regions—clashes are inevitable.

13 What’s the way forward?

14. Sustainable agriculture which includes a transition from nomadic pastoralism to a more scientific and assisted system could help immensely in addressing this problem.

15. Governments, traditional leaders and development partners of Africa must be involved in achieving this. The people must be prioritised.

16. Many more…

By Fidel Amakye Owusu – International Relations and Security Analyst and Writer

Article Reproduced with Permission from Fidel Amakye Owusu

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