The executive director of Beakanyang, a local NGO, has been speaking about the reported conflict between livestock owners and farmers in his native Wuli.
In a write-up sent to The Standard, the human rights activist Nfamara Jawneh who is currently studying in Canada, said even though such conflicts are not uncommon in the region, it is imperative that the disputing factions amicably solve the standoff.
Below is his article:
“I have learnt through Kebba Camara’s popular radio program on Paradise FM of a potential conflict between farmers and livestock owners in my native Wuli.
As a concerned Wulinka, I would like to add my voice to that of many others calling for the need to nurture peaceful co-existence and good neighborliness between our crop farmers and livestock owners.
Conflict between livestock owners especially herdsmen and crop farmers is not new in Wuli as we had several instances during the past regime.
The most notable period of such conflicts is the on-set of raining season when farmers are busy sowing their seeds and even when they grow up newly.
In the past, we had seen instances where some farm owners were injured in their disputes with livestock owners.
Sadly, most of those disputes were never resolved amicably or fairly largely due to alleged payment of bribes to local authorities then by herdsmen thus resulting in their biasness in the way they handle such cases.
The way and manner our livestock owners manage their livestock in search of water and grazing land must change. They must learn to control their cattle to avoid encroaching into farmlands which usually serves as a source for potential conflict.
Meanwhile, it’s important for our livestock owners to understand that the way they value their cattle is the same way if not more then the crop framers value their farms for their livelihoods.
Nonetheless, the fact of the matter is that as a people we need both crops and meat for survival and a healthy diet.
Now, the question that I’m trying to drive at is about how do we live peacefully as livestock owners and crop framers without undermining each other’s survival and livelihood?
Framing is painful and as such offending herdsmen should admit guilt when there is evidence of encroachment by their stray animals.
In my opinion, damage compensations should also be made especially if the affected farmer demanded payment of which should also be based on the extent of damage. However, in cases where minimal destruction is made and the herdsmen show some concerns and remorse, I would recommend for only a warning to say not to allow future encroachment.
Good social cohesion and neighborliness is a catalyst for community peace, local development and prosperity for all our peoples.
We should always endeavour to solve our community disputes amongst ourselves instead of involving the police. In fact, history will tell us in the past community disputes that ends up at police station in Wuli had created more harm than good.
I therefore believe that the ongoing drama between the people of Jah Kunda and Chief of Wuli West is not necessary.
In my view, the chief should work with both the farmers and livestock owners to ensure a peaceful co-existence where by committing them to protect and safeguard each other’s source of livelihood or else face the consequences.
Finally, I would like to remind our people that the chief, Alkalolu and Village Development Committees (VDCs) are all important in our local governance structure and all are constituted by an act of Parliament.
Though they have different roles they must work together and respect one another in the execution of their dues hence none of them is more important than the other.”