I am apprehensive about a looming crisis in my hometown, Adaklu-Waya, the district capital of ADAKLU District in the Volta Region of Ghana as a result of some activities of herdsmen there.
My worry emanates from the GROWING unfriendliness of sedentary crop farmers towards marauding cattle herders.
The hostility stems from the unrestricted cattle grazing on people’s lands, the destruction of farmlands and properties.
The menace is near-total impunity and it is not limited to the destruction of farmlands and crops. They also pollute our River Waya and River Tordze, the major sources of drinking water to many communities within the Adaklu district.
I eavesdropped on conversations among my folks, both old and young, lamenting so much over their inability to understand why some landlords would accept herdsmen with their cattle onto their lands but have no modicum of restraint over their movements and the unacceptable trespassing/activities extended to other people’s lands and farms, including lands belonging to landlords who for the obvious reasons and the foreseeable future, have not honoured invitations by herdsmen and cattle owners to bring cattle onto their lands.
To a worse extent the herders set forth with accuracy, a devil-may-care attitude towards complaints and the plights of their day-to-day victims.
It is understandable that they find it difficult to locate pasturage for their cattle during the dry seasons especially and thus the only option is to deliberately herd them onto cultivated farmlands on which farmers have expended great labour.
They instruct and supervise the cattle while they unleash their hunger on farm crops meant for human consumption.
There are other landlords who are reluctant to accommodate herdsmen and their cattle on their lands.
This decision is carefully thought-out on account of the menace stated above and other related matters and developments in other parts of the country and beyond. These landlords and their subjects/tenants are however affected by the menace. The above issues have made it futile for these landlords to contract with potential developers and tenant farmers seeking to invest and expend labour on their lands.
The menace is of great concern as it cuts across the country and has led to clashes between indigenous communities and the cattle herders in other communities in the country and beyond.
There have been reports of alleged shooting, butchering, maiming and killing of cattle by indigenous farmers on their farms for trespassing their property and destroying their crops. The situation is worse in other parts of the country where human lives have been lost.
It is threatening and should be nipped in the bud.
Even in Accra, the capital city of Ghana, where there are neither enough farmlands to graze nor farm crops to destroy, the menace is of different format.
Do not be surprised when you see cattle discharge feces from their bowels right in the middle of busy bituminous roads and the adjoining walkways. The cattle are also the modern traffic lights that regulate vehicular traffic in some parts of the city.
ADAKLU is free from the ACCRA experience – thanks to the “difficult-to-travel-on“ nature of our roads. However, reports from some political actors indicate that portions of our roads would be tarred soon and I am scared the Accra experience would be witnessed in Adaklu.
I believe every problem has a solution be it ad hoc or long-term. There is the need for landlords to make known to their tenant-herdsmen the verges of the lands they lease to their said tenant-herdsmen. It must be accompanied by the appropriate restrictions and compliance to avert the undesirable trespassing to other people’s properties.
I am told there is animal market for the smooth transaction of business; the buying and selling of cattle and cattle products. We should as well consider putting in place cattle rearing measures for effective cattle management. The cattle could be raised on ranches. Instead of wandering around in search of forage and foraying into people’s farms and properties, there should be designated zones dedicated and developed for raising the cattle where they would be confined, fed and taken proper care of.
Issues arising from the activities of herdsmen should be addressed extensively and fairly by the appropriate authorities. Herdsmen, cattle owners and their landlords must all be held jointly accountable for damages caused by the cattle on people’s farms and other issues relating to the activities of herdsmen.
The ability to foresee a threatening situation should be an inspiration for today’s crisis management.