>> If the coming dry season in Nigeria follows the pattern of previous years, then these quiet fields in the country's middle belt will soon erupt into a violent turf war. Between nomadic herders and settled farming communities. Reuters Alexis Akwagyiram, is in the central state of Benue.>> The argument goes as follows.
The herdsmen want their cattle to be free to roam, and to eat, and to prosper on grazing land. The farmers want to keep their farmsteads to themselves. And they say that the cows are moving across their farmland, and causing problems for them. And so, violence begins and people have been dying.
Here in Benue, hundreds of people have been killed this year and thousands have been forced to flee their homes, living instead in camps for internally displaced people.>> In the past, the bloodshed has been blamed on ethnic or religious differences. But Reuters analysis of data from satellite imagery, illustrates the more earthly reason.
Over the past 40 years, there's been a massive expansion in farming in the middle belt, cutting access to grazing land for nomadic herders. And that's down to a few things, not least Nigeria's rapidly swelling population.>> The UN estimates that come 2050, Nigeria will be the third most populous country in the world after China and India, with a population of around 400,000,000 people.
>> People have also been pushed down into the middle belt, by Boku Haram violence in the northeast. But even that insurgent violence has killed fewer people this year, than the crashes between the farmers and herders. According to amnesty, more than 3,600 people have died since 2016. In this less than pastoral bloodshed.