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Abstract

The complementarity of the economic systems of nomads and farmers is often overshadowed by the conflicts inherent in the competition over the control of land. The conflict is one of property rights. A dynamic programming model of the West African Sahel is presented that simulates the emergence of a dual economy based on the comparative advantage of the farmer and the pastoralist. The model illustrates that exclusive private property rights have no claim to optimality. The analysis of risk in an intertemporal framework suggests the optimality of another type of property right ‐ the right to flexible adjustment typically claimed by the pastoralist. Multiple property regimes provide optimal settings for farmers and pastoralists.
THE ECONOMICS OF CAIN AND ABEL:
AGRO-PASTORAL PROPERTY RIGHTS IN THE SAHEL
by
Rogier van den Brink*
Daniel W. Bromley**
Jean-Paul Chavas**
The complementarity of the economic systems of nomads and farmers is
often overshadowed by the conflicts inherent in the competition over the
control of land. The conflict is one of property rights. A dynamic
programming model of the West African Sahel is presented that simulates the emergence of a dual
economy based on the comparative advantage of the farmer and the pastoralist. The model
illustrates that exclusive private property rights have no claim to optimality. The analysis of risk in
an intertemporal framework suggests the optimality of another type of property right--the right to
flexible adjustment typically claimed by the pastoralist. Multiple property regimes provide optimal
settings for farmers and pastoralists.
* Agriculture and Environment Operations Division, Southern Africa
Department, World Bank.
** Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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1. INTRODUCTION
Some say that the quarrel arose at Earth's division between the brothers, in which all land fell to
Cain, but all birds, beasts and creeping things to Abel. They agreed that neither should have any
claim on the other's possessions. As soon as this pact had been concluded Cain, who was tilling a
field, told Abel to move his flocks way. When Abel replied that they would not harm the tillage, Cain
caught up a weapon and ran in vengeful pursuit across mountain and valley, until he overtook and
killed him [Graves and Patai, 1964: 91 ].
We draw on the story of Cain and Abel to focus attention on the differing property rights regimes
inherent in sedentary agriculture and in pastoralism. This perspective is necessary in light of the recent
rather widespread belief among development experts that private--individualized--and exclusive title to land
in Africa is the sine qua non of improved economic performance [Feder and Noronha, 1987; Feder and Feeny,
1991]. This new perspective is also timely given the recent developments in property rights theory,
particularly with respect to land uses at the extensive margin [Bromley, 1992, 1991, 1989; Bromley and
Cernea, 1989; National Academy of Sciences, 1986; Larson and Bromley, 1990; McCay and Acheson, 1987].
Finally, this perspective strongly amplifies the recent developments in the field of rangeland management
suggesting the need for more flexible strategies of natural resource use [Cousins, 1992; Behnke and Scoones,
1991].
The conflict between Cain--the farmer--and Abel--the herder--should be understood as one of
property rights. In agriculture as well as livestock production, property rights emerge to secure income
streams generated by production activities. The nature of the income stream, then, may affect the type of
property right that is likely to be established. The crucial difference between sedentary farming and nomadic
livestock production is that they differ in ability to react ex post to temporal uncertainty; in other words, they
differ in flexibility.i
Unfortunately, property rights essential for livestock production in the Sahel have been eroded by a
long history of conflicts. More recently, a number of state interventions that expropriated pastoralists of
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property rights crucial to their economic systems have clearly favored farmers over pastoralists in the
allocation of private property rights. These changes have created general uncertainty over property rights to
natural resources, thereby inducing a de facto open access situation. The resulting tragedy of open access,
induced by public policy, has substantially increased the costs of running the pastoralist economy (i.e. its
transaction costs) and adversely affected the pastoralists' ability to overcome periods of drought. Ever since
the publication of Sen's [1981] seminal essay on the relation between famines and Entitlements, the
implications of the loss of property rights to the Sahelian nomads need no further elaboration.
In this paper we develop the case for property regimes as instrumental variables in development
policy, and we show that highly diverse and variable agricultural ecosystems demand property regimes that
allow quick human response to new exigencies. We establish the microeconomic relationship between
environmental variability, choice of technique, and property rights in a dynamic, partial equilibrium context.
We demonstrate the importance of flexibility as an optimal strategic response of individuals faced with input
uncertainty and develop a model simulating a dual economy that arises as the result of rational choice by
individuals faced with temporal uncertainty. Such rational choice includes the choice of optimal property
rights regimes which allow capture of the income streams of techniques appropriate for a particular
agroecosystem.
The model, while in the vein of Demsetz [1967], does not lead us to conclude that exclusive private
(individualized) property rights in land are necessarily optimal. Given spatio-temporal risk, other types of
property regimes may be more appropriate. Over-exploitation of natural resources in the Sahel has often
been associated with the introduction of techniques that allowed for a more intensive use of a given range
without the formulation of the type of property rights regimes that could regulate and coordinate such use.
As development policies reassess the role livestock in Africa and elsewhere, it is essential that programs be
formulated with clarity and coherence so as to avoid the mistakes of the past when "private" or "group"
ranches were regarded as the solution to pastoralist "problems."
In the second section of the paper we develop a theoretical model of the dual economy of Cain--the
farmer--and Abel--the nomad. The Biblical parallel is used to emphasize both urgency and universality of the
problem. The model simulates a dual economy based on the comparative advantages of two different
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production techniques faced with environmental uncertainty. An economic theory of optimal production
techniques and property rights is developed in a context of dynamic risk. In the third section we use the
model to describe the agro-pastoral production system of the West African Sahel. In the fourth section we
touch upon policy issues, both in a historical as well as in a current framework.
2. A DYNAMIC MODEL OF AGRO-PASTORAL PRODUCTION
Economists have generated an extensive literature on the effects of risk and uncertainty on
economic decision making. However, risk is commonly modeled as if it were "timeless." The formulation of
the problem in terms of timeless risk precludes the theory to investigate important economic behavior such
as learning and the use of adaptive strategies--dynamic decisions influenced by new information that
becomes available over time. Once we introduce temporal risk, a wider variety of economic behavior under
risk can be modeled.ii
If economic institutions are a response to risk of various types, it seems logical not to restrict
analytical attention to only one type of risk. In other words, the recognition that risk is not timeless, but
changes over time, is important for the analysis of economic behavior and institutions in general, and
property rights in particular. If a farmer puts up a fence around his fields and establishes an exclusive
property right to the land, he reduces the risk that others may claim the field, and he assures himself of the
full benefits of any investments he would care to undertake in his fields. He establishes ex ante certainty to
the exclusive use of the land. The higher and the more certain the income stream he can derive from the
exploitation of his field, the more he will be willing to pay for the "fence," i.e., the exclusive property right.
However, where there is ex post uncertainty there is a positive economic value attached to the
capacity to adjust ex post. Thus, the ex ante certainty that a nomadic pastoralist would acquire by fencing his
range in a situation of extremely variable rainfall, and with a limited potential to improve the productivity of
the range, does not represent high economic value. The nomad, then, might not be interested in an exclusive
property right to a particular field. He might be more interested in establishing a property right that would
enable him to ex post adjust to temporal uncertainty. In particular, he would value property rights that
assured him spatial mobility.
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Such property rights assure the right holder of a secure income stream. From a pastoralist
perspective, establishing tenure security means establishing the security of such property rights as best
suited to capture the income stream of a spatially mobile economic activity.
In the following, an economic model is presented that captures the dominant characteristics of the
production systems of nomads and farmers in a stylized Sahelian environment. The model simulates a dual
economy based on the comparative advantages of two different production techniques with respect to
environmental uncertainty.iii Choice of technique and choice of property regime become a function of
particular eco-zones [Bromley, 1989].
In the model, the climate in the world inhabited by the farmer, Cain, and the nomad, Abel, is not a
constant, but a variable. The north is arid and rainfall is extremely variable. Moving south, average rainfall
increases while the variability is reduced. Each isohyet runs perfectly west-east over the region. Thus,
movements along a particular isohyet do not cause changes in mean or variability of rainfall. This is a
stylized approximation of the climatic conditions found in the Sahel. The simulated rainfall regime
incorporates this basic pattern.iv Every grid on the imaginary map of the world in which Cain and Abel live
falls under some specific rainfall distribution. Laterally (i.e., grids from west to east on an isohyet), each grid
exhibits realizations from probability density functions with the same moments. North-south movements
perpendicular to the isohyets exhibit realizations drawn from density functions that incorporate
simultaneous changes in E(e) and Var(e). This climatic variable defines different eco-zones and is central to
the following model.
Cain and Abel live in a simple two-period world in which it can rain in both periods. To optimize
fodder availability for his herd, Abel attempts to stay perpetually mobile (for two periods in the model).
Given actual rainfall in period 1 (represented by the realization of the random variable e) he makes his
location decision x1. This may also be called his ex ante choice. After Abel has observed rainfall in period 2,
he decides to move his herd to a new location x2, exploiting the new grazing opportunities which present
themselves. This is his ex post choice.
If we solve Abel's problem recursively, i.e., through backward induction from period t = 2 to t = 1, we
would take the following steps. The optimal choice of period 2 location (x2) is given by the maximand of a
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function f representing "ex post utility." The function f is assumed to be strictly concave in its arguments.
We postulate that this choice of period 2 location will in general depend on his period 1 location, the period 2
rainfall, and the property rights regime in place. Nomadic nonexclusive property rights are defined as
property rights that secure the profit stream of the livestock production activity wherever such production
takes place. Note that nonexclusivity does not necessarily mean open access. Nonexclusivity implies that, ex
ante, exclusive rights to a particular production location do not exist, but that rights of access exists which
are restricted to a well-defined number of property right holders. We leave the exact definition of these
rules of access unspecified at this point. Suffice it to say that such rules generally solve a coordination
problem, which--in the empirical case of Sahelian pastoralists--are typically solved in a common property
regime. Under open access, no coordination would exist, and the number of potential users could be
unrestricted.
Consequently, Abel's problem in period 2 is the following:
Max f(x1, x2, e, Z) (1)
x2
x1 = location at time t = 1
x2 = location at time t = 2
e = rainfall distribution in period 2: not known at t=1, but known at t=2.
Z = variable representing property rights. If Z=0, property rights are non-exclusive. Such
rights allow Abel to change location in period 2. If Z=1, exclusive property rights exist which
prevent locational mobility.
The above optimization problem yields the optimal period 2 location:
* *
x2 = x2 (x1 , e, Z) (2)
Working backwards to the period 1 problem, we can formulate the choice of location as based on Abel's
subjective expectations with respect to rainfall distributions and the profits incurred through relocation to x2
after a particular rainfall. Optimal locations x1 and x2 are governed by the following dynamic programming
problem:
Max E1{Max f(x1, x2, e, d, Z)} (3)
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x1 x2
where E1 is the expectations operator in period t = 1 over the random variable e, and d represents a
transaction cost parameter associated with movements.v We allow for transaction costs since the
establishment of property rights, whether exclusive or non-exclusive, will normally involve costs associated
with information gathering, contracting, and enforcement.
Figure 1 compares the ex post utility obtained under three assumptions.vi The first alternative
assumes perfect mobility. The second alternative has transaction costs imposed on mobility. The third
alternative, labelled "immobility", assumes that Abel stays in the same location during both periods. Utility
under perfect mobility is graphed as the solid line. In this case, i.e. if movements are costless, Abel does not
have an a priori preference for a given location. If transactions costs on movement are imposed, the expected
utility is reduced and a southern location becomes more desirable. The expected value of utility if Abel
remains at his period 1 location (under an immobile production scheme) is indicated by the lowest dotted
line in Figure 1. Abel would want to move south given the higher expected value of rainfall and lesser
variance there. At some point Abel might even prefer to settle in the south and establish himself as a rancher
with a fixed location.
Property rights that allow Abel to secure the benefits derived from a strategy based on flexible
response to environmental variability have positive economic value. In general, the value of flexibility F
(measured in utils) is given by:
F = Max E1{Max f(x1, x2, e, d, Z)} - Max E1{f(x1, x2, e, d, Z)} 0
x1 x2 x1=x2 (4)
The value of the nonexclusive property regime (Z = 0) is derived from the value of ex post flexibility
F. Abel assesses the value of nonexclusive nomadic property rights by comparing the result of the
maximization problem under full mobility with the result of a maximization problem under no mobility. The
absence of such nomadic rights would constrain Abel's choice of x1 to be equal to x2. If x1 = x2, it can be
shown that F = 0.
[FIGURE 1 HERE]
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The expected value of flexibility with and without transactions costs is shown in Figure 2. The solid
line represents the value of flexibility without transactions costs; the dotted line represents its value with
transactions cost taken into account. As expected, the value of flexibility is highest in the North and lowest
in the South, whereas the introduction of transactions costs lowers the value of flexibility for every point of
the grid. Note that an increase in demographic pressure can be modelled as an increase in transaction costs.
[FIGURE 2 HERE]
What would be Abel's maximum willingness to pay for a nomadic property regime which, after all, is
not costless to uphold? If we express the problem in monetary values, we can introduce initial wealth w.
Abel's willingness to pay for nonexclusive property rights Z = 0 would be implicitly defined by the following
equation:
Max E1{max f(w - WTP, x1, x2, e, d, Z = 0)} =
x1 x2 (5)
Max E1{max f(w, x1, x2, e, d, Z = 1)}
x1=x2
w = initial wealth
WTP = Willingness to Pay
This equation gives an implicit definition of Abel's willingness to pay for property regime Z = 0. If
his willingness to pay is positive, Abel will demand nonexclusive property rights, i.e., Z = 0. The willingness
to pay for such a property regime will in general increase with the value of flexibility. As shown in Figure 2,
the value of flexibility is highest in the north. Extreme rainfall variability increases the value of an adaptive
strategy vis-à-vis a nonadaptive strategy, and, thus, the likelihood that a nonexclusive property rights regime
would be established.
Whereas the optimal domain of such a regime in our model is in the north, its territory (a particular
set of ex post locations) is not a priori defined. Only ex post movement following a particular realization of
the random rainfall variable will define actual territorial occupation.
We have shown that Abel's production technique induces a demand for property rights that enable
him to capture the benefits of flexibility. The base comparison of expected utility (with or without
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transactions costs) was always with a situation in which his pastoralist activity was restrained by immobility.
For Cain, the farmer, the problem is different. Being a farmer, Cain makes the ex ante choice of location for
the two periods. By definition, he does not move his farm between the two periods. Cain's technology of
sedentary farming is an inferior choice in the arid north. Furthermore, as one moves south the comparative
advantage gradually shifts from pastoralism to farming.
Cain's maximization problem is defined as:
Max E1{g(x1, x2, e, d, Z)}, (6)
x1=x2
where g(.) is Cain's utility function.
Cain's choice of property regime is also derived from a comparison between two maximization problems.
Cain compares expected utility of crop production under an exclusive property regime with the expected
utility of sedentary livestock production. Thus, we assume that initially Cain is a sedentary pastoralist, who
ponders whether he should switch production technology, given the ecosystem in which he finds himself. In
making this choice, Cain realizes that he will have to secure the benefits of crop production by establishing
exclusive rights to the location. For instance, Cain will need to protect his crops against possible incursions
of Abel's herds. Such exclusive cultivation rights are indicated by the variable Z = 1. Introducing initial
wealth w, Cain's willingness to pay for an exclusive property rights regime will implicitly be given by the
following equation:
Max E1{g(w - WTP, x1, x2, e, d, Z = 1)} = (7)
x1=x2
Max E1{g(w, x1, x2, e, d, Z = 0)}
x1=x2
If, for a given location, Cain's willingness to pay is greater than zero, he will demand an exclusive cultivation
property right Z = 1.
Given the above model, it is now possible to endogenize the choice of technique and property rights
regime given the rainfall probability distribution of a particular location. Ruling out the settlement of
conflicting claims by violence, we could evaluate for each location x the maximum willingness to pay of each
individual. The property rights regime governing the location will then depend on whether the WTP of Abel
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is greater than, equal to, or smaller than the WTP of Cain. We know from (4) that for Abel an adaptive
strategy performs always at least as well as a non-adaptive strategy:
Max E1{Max f(x1, x2, e, d, Z=0)} Max E1{f(x1, x2, e, d,Z=0)} (8)
x1 x2 x1=x2
However, we do not know a priori for a given grid on the map whether Abel's
WTP is larger or smaller than Cain's WTP. The relative magnitude of these WTP for a given location
determines the optimal production technique and property rights regime (see Figure 3). By comparing these
WTP, we can assess the optimal property regime and therefore endogenize the choice of particular economic
institution. Figure 3 identifies an equilibrium point where the two WTP are equal.
[FIGURE 3 HERE]
The area to the north of the equilibrium point will be the optimal domain for livestock production
and fall under Abel's nonexclusive nomadic property rights. The area to the south, ceteris paribus, will be the
optimal domain for crop production governed by Cain's exclusive cultivation property rights. The domain of
Abel's technology--with technology here defined as the combination of the optimal technique and the
appropriate property right--does not imply exclusive territory. For Cain's technology, however, optimal
domain does imply territorial exclusivity. The choice of technology in the model is made given period 1
location.
3. THE AGRO-PASTORAL PRODUCTION SYSTEM OF THE SAHEL
For the Sahel the stylized north-south sequence of agricultural resource exploitation largely
conforms to the model presented in the previous section. Pure pastoral nomadism is practiced in the arid
Saharan north characterized by extremely variable rainfall of less than 200 millimeters per year. Pure
nomadism can conceptually be defined as a perfectly mobile system of extensive livestock production with
virtually no permanent place of abode, and no crop production. As one moves south, rainfall patterns
become more stable, with average rainfall increasing to more than 800 millimeters for the Guinean
11
savannah zone. The Sahel roughly occupies the transition zone between the Sahara and the Guinean
savannah zone. In this transition from low and highly variable rainfall to high and more stable rainfall
patterns, one finds the fully mobile livestock production systems gradually associated with some form of
crop production.vii Such systems can be classified as seminomadism. Much of the southern Sahel is
characterized by transhumance systems. Under the latter systems, trek routes are shorter, while part of the
population is sedentary and engaged in crop cultivation.
Sahelian pastoralists typically employ several routes for the annual movement from dry-season
pasture in the south to rainy season pasture in the north. The routes can range between 100 and 400
kilometers and are "anchored" on one or more relatively sure waterpoints, such as a lake or a flooded valley.
The more southern Sahelian transhumance systems employ shorter routes. However, multiyear periods of
extreme and prolonged drought are a recurrent phenomenon across the Sahel, and they trigger pastoral
movements over long distances. It is not unusual for such migrations to cause the crossing of several
national borders, while the return to the original country may only occur several years later. The existence of
such "drought contingency routes" is a vital part of any pastoral strategy in the Sahel [Starr, 1987].
Two countervailing forces oppose southward movements of pastoralists. The first is the incidence of
diseases detrimental to human and animal health, such as river blindness and trypanosomiasis. The second
countervailing force is the increase of the farming population density. Population pressure reaches a relative
maximum in the so-called "sorghum belt", where large Sahelian population centers such as N'Djamena,
Kano, Sokoto, Niamey, Ouagadougou, and Bamako are found. The area further south, however, is generally
less densely populated. This is caused by increasing health hazards associated with a more humid climate
and by a particularly unfavorable interaction between the shorter length of the dry season and increased
leaching of the relatively shallow soils.
A closer look at property regimes associated with pastoral production systems reveals that the
capacity for flexibility in movement is at the basis of their definition. Instead of making all production
decisions ex ante, which would preclude the use of new information, the pastoralist adopts a strategy that
allows for an ex post reaction to new information about rainfall and pasture conditions or, in other words,
the temporal resolution of risk. Consequently, property rights of pastoralists emphasize the possibility for
12
contingent, i.e., state-dependent, movements--exactly as modeled in the previous section. Such property
regimes do not attempt to establish exclusive rights to a particular piece of land per se. Thus:
The pastoral Fulani displayed little concern with territorial identity or the defence of
particular grazing areas; they were more interested in rights of access to pastures, water, and
salt for their cattle than they were in the ownership of land [Frantz, 1986: 18-19].
Typically, the tribal organization of a nomadic property regime enables each economic unit to be
continuously mobile since no single permanent trek route would be optimal under environmental
uncertainty. The property regime, then, does not define a fixed territory for its members [Baroin, 1985;
Clanet, 1975]. On the contrary, the relational aspects of property rights are stressed as pastoral peoples need
to continually move around [Neale, 1969]. Movements need to be coordinated with other lineages and tribes,
as well as with farming populations. The different itineraries of annual transhumance may be coordinated in
advance by an assembly of lineages in order to minimize the risk of interference. Under such property
regimes, lineage heads function as stewards of the system, while cattle are private property [Lainé, 1982].
The lineages thus form a management group that establishes rights and duties with respect to the use of
pastoral resources (access to trek routes, pasture, water, et cetera). Nomadic property regimes, then, achieve
a mix between individual incentives and group incentives mediated by--indeed, defined by--institutional
rules.
Even the more "sedentarized" pastoralists of the southern Sahel who practice restricted seasonal
movements within zones of 30 to 50 kilometers, will typically not claim exclusive property rights to their
potential grazing area. Lineages' management rights constitute property regimes that are not directly
exclusive in terms of territory: they define priority access rights to water and pasture. The management right
of lineage, however, needs to be asserted or "activated" by the digging of wells, the erection of camps, and
actual grazing. To the extent that nonmembers do not interfere with members' management and access
rights, nonmembers also have access to the resources. However, the grazing areas are not open access
regimes. Rules specifying priority access to water effectively regulate the usage of the territory by
nonmembers whenever needed. Territorial exclusion, then, is indirectly achieved when needed by
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controlling the access to the crucially scarce factor but not by directly claiming exclusive territorial title to the
land as such.
Pastoralist property regimes of the Sahel are best described as common property regimes [Wade,
1992]. Unfortunately, the "tragedy of the commons" as described by Hardin [1968] has tended to associate
resource over-exploitation with common property regimes. However, empirical work on common property
regimes has shown that over-exploitation is caused by the absence of common property rules, not by the
presence of such arrangements. This suggests that the "tragedy of the commons" should be relabeled the
"tragedy of open access" [Bromley and Cernea, 1989].
The claim for exclusive territorial title to the land is properly associated with sedentary farming
systems. Whereas pastoralist mobility capitalizes on the ability to adjust ex post to the variable
environment, farming systems of the semiarid tropics employ a number of cultivation techniques that stress
ex ante, as well as ex post, adjustment to environmental risk. Here, risk reduction is obtained through
portfolio diversification (an ex ante risk reducing technique) by choosing production activities and assets
that exhibit low or negative covariances with respect to each other. Intercropping and plot scattering can be
seen as good examples of such portfolio diversification. In this context, exclusive private property rights can
emerge as the appropriate property regime.
For farmers, another set of production strategies, e.g. variable planting dates and replanting is
designed to adjust ex post to temporal risk in a manner comparable to the "nomadic" adjustment to risk
[Chavas, Kristjanson, and Matlon, 1991]. Moreover, from a similar perspective, general techniques of
shifting cultivation and crop rotations are themselves ex post adjustments, permitting the farmer to adjust to
the variable productivity of the resource base [Warren and Maizels, 1977]. In Niger, one observer described a
farming system as "agricultural nomadism" in view of the continuous movement of farms in search for
fertile soils [Cissé, 1982]. Even intensive and sustained manuring may not allow for permanent cultivation
in some parts of the Sahel; the compound and the animal parkings are continuously moved in a rotational
pattern so as to spread the benefits of manuring and to avoid over-exploitation of a particular plot [Thomson,
1982].
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Typically, the individual farmer can obtain the use rights of a particular plot out of a common pool of
plots managed by the lineage head. As long as the farmer uses the plot, he or she has exclusive property
rights over the yield of the plot. However, given the limited scope for permanent cultivation of a particular
plot, there emerges an option value for ex post adjustment, i.e. the value of having access to a different plot
at some point in the future. The membership of the community bestows a right to farm, but not necessarily
to a particular farm. In this respect, the common property regimes of farming communities are basically
similar to the pastoralist regimes. The similarity is caused by the need to solve a similar problem of
coordination, since in both cases individuals are likely to make ex post adjustments that need to be
coordinated within the group, or else risk causing negative externalities to others.
Common property regimes typically evolve to solve such coordination problems by specifying access
rules to resources and enforcing them over a well-defined membership. In other words, the common
property regime provides the market across which internalization of the negative externalities can be
negotiated. In cases where common property regimes are said to cause "tenure insecurity" for the individual,
the community may in fact be preventing individuals from (re)creating a negative externality by
disassociating themselves from the common property rules. The benefits of exclusive, individualized
property, then, need to be weighed against the social cost of the externality.
In summary, the agro-pastoral production systems of the arid and semiarid tropics typically
incorporate a mix of mechanisms that allow for adaptive strategies to changing environmental conditions. In
the case of Sahelian nomadism, the economic value of such flexible strategies has found its expression in
continuous movements of the production unit over time, i.e., "spatio-temporal flexibility". Empirically, one
can observe a relation between the riskiness of the environment and the importance of flexibility-based
adaptive strategies to the agricultural production system.
Property rights theory suggests that a pluralistic property rights regime under which both private
and common property regimes could co-exist and co-evolve would be efficient in capturing the economic
value of different adaptive strategies. Nomadic property regimes allow pastoralists to implement adaptive
strategies to environmental uncertainty. An adaptive strategy and its associated property regime generally
require ex post coordination between economic actors. By contrast, a nonadaptive strategy typically requires
15
only ex ante coordination. Thus, the informational requirements of adaptive strategies will induce the
establishment of a common property regime if coordination between individuals is less costly under
centralized management at the group level than under a system of private contracting between independent
actors.
5. POLICY ISSUES
Policy makers and analysts often speak of a "nomadic dilemma" when referring to the predicament
of nomads in the Sahel and elsewhere in Africa. The "nomadic dilemma" is seldom understood as a problem
of property rights, but, rather, as one of nomads "lacking modern education, ignoring frontiers and spreading
cattle diseases" [Adamu and Kirk-Greene, 1986: xiii]. Additionally, "Pastoral nomadism tends to be regarded
as anachronistic, unconducive to good administration or education, and is expected to be superseded in time
by `resettlement' programmes" [Mortimore, 1989: 223]. Thus, a commonly held assumption is that
nomadism is ultimately doomed and that efforts should be geared towards making this outcome as painless
as possible, e.g. [Lowe, 1986]. This attitude is best illustrated by a proposal for a principal motion at the
Fifteenth International African Seminar on Pastoralists of the West African Savannah that bluntly states that
it is not in the interests of the pastoralists to continue to lead a nomadic way of life. Instead, they should
settle down, while the governments of the region should take care "to preserve whatever is worth preserving
in their culture, including their languages" [Adamu and Kirk-Greene, 1986: xvii].
The empirical reality of the resilience and economic importance of pastoral production systems
provides a stark contrast to the above presumptions. Perhaps 25 percent of the total population of West
Africa can be classified as pastoral [Sihm, 1989]. In Sahelian West Africa (Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso,
Niger, and Chad) livestock production typically accounts for 30 to 40 percent of total agricultural value
added. Shapiro [1979] estimated that cattle originating in Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad
constitutes more than 50 percent of all slaughter cattle in the wider West African region, whereas only one-
tenth of West African cattle production can be attributed to sedentary livestock production systems. The so-
called "low-productivity" Sahelian livestock production systems operate at levels of animal protein
production per hectare that significantly exceed the levels for comparable regions in the United States and
16
Australia [Breman and de Wit, 1983]. Comparisons between transhumant and sedentary livestock
production invariably show greater animal productivity under the former production modes [Penning de
Vries, 1983].viii
The supposedly "subsistence oriented" and "backward" nomadic economy supplies all major urban
centers in West Africa with a steady flow of meat [Swift, 1986]. This flow is assured by an elaborate
international trading network that links the Sahelian pastoralists with the major consumption centers on
both sides of the Sahara desert. Paradoxically, the nomads' alleged poverty and backwardness do not seem to
inhibit the governments of the region in levying a plethora of direct taxes on cattle trade. Similar direct
taxation of farmers is virtually non-existent.
Moreover, the balance of political and economic power between pastoralists and farmers in the West
African savannah has steadily been shifting towards farmers. At worst, the process has led to the simple
annulment of pastoral property rights. At best, transaction costs have increasingly been shifted onto the
pastoralist production system. The undermining of pastoralist property rights is probably first and foremost
related to a decline in political influence. Additionally, population pressure has increased the opportunity
costs of arable land. The end result is that Abel's "domain" has shrunk dramatically.
From the 13th century onwards, incited by the demand for slaves emanating from the trans-Saharan
trade, the horse-riding peoples of Saharan origin had engaged in predatory activities on their Southern
neighbors of Niger-Congo origins. This predatory pattern reached its climax during the 18th and 19th
centuries, when pastoralist tribes effectively colonized large portions of the West African savannah through
an imperialist expansion strategy based on professional warfare. This system rested on the mobilization of
large armies of slaves, on the mobility of cavalries--which explains why the invasions stopped short of the
tse-tse fly infected forest zones--and on the effective control over tribute-paying farming populations [Bah,
1986; Franke and Chasin, 1980].
The French colonizers attempted to pacify the region through the sedentarization of the nomads and
the abolition of slavery. Policies of divide et impera were employed to reduce the political power of the
nomads, but at times the attacks on the nomadic hegemonies, such as the 1917 massacre of the nomadic
17
aristocracy at Tanut in Niger, were direct and brutal [Lainé, 1982]. When the upkeep of the slave economies
became infeasible and feudal taxation revenues dwindled, the nomadic empires quickly collapsed.
The voluntary or involuntary incorporation of sedentary farming populations in the nomadic
political economy was a key strategy pursued by the nomads of the West African savannah [Lovejoy and
Baier, 1976; Konczacki, 1978].ix In some cases, transfers between the two systems were part of a formal
political economy ruled by "urbanized" pastoralists who monopolized the trans-Saharan trade routes, while
assuring themselves of a steady food supply through the operation of slave plantations. In other cases, the
transfers occurred as part of a pattern of opportunistic raids of nomads into the southern farming zones.
Finally, and probably in the majority of cases, a symbiotic relationship existed between the rural pastoralists
and their farming neighbors, based on the complementarity of the two production systems [Baier, 1976;
Mortimore, 1989; Forde, 1960].
In the last decades, however, there has been a marked increase of conflicts between nomads and
farmers, generally at the expense of the nomads. In particular, what has been called the "colonization" of the
Sahel by the farming population greatly reduced the spatial flexibility on which the pastoralist technology
was based. Nomads had to circumvent larger cultivated areas, lengthening their routes and increasing the
costs of operating the pastoralist system considerably.x Additionally, new irrigation schemes typically occupy
large areas of valley bottom lands, which constitute crucial pastoral resources during the dry season.
Unfortunately, both Sahelian and coastal governments of the region often identify with the farming
population, viewing nomads as strangers, transients, and non-citizens with no legitimate claim to property
rights to natural resources. The effect of this persistent "farmer bias" is that changes in property rights
regimes introduced by these states have usually completely annulled pastoral property rights. Nomads were
simply expropriated by the declaration that all terres libres (most of which were, in fact, grazing lands) were
to be considered national property.xi In this context, a common assertion is that the "nation" owns all the
land and that therefore the nomads have to compensate the "nation" for use of the grass. This compensation
rule is then typically used to justify the imposition of a plethora of taxes on livestock ownership and
marketing, ranging from a variety of sales taxes to taxes for "use of the road". On the other hand, one finds
such reasoning conspicuously absent in the case of farmers' cultivation or fuel wood collection.
18
Reduced flexibility increased livestock losses during periods of extreme environmental variability,
such as the prolonged drought period of 1968-1976. At the height of the drought (1973) losses were
estimated at 20 to 70 percent [Konczacki, 1978]. Although some losses might have been exaggerated, it
seemed that the capacity of the nomadic system to manage the effects of the drought had been greatly
reduced, compared with earlier droughts such as the one in 1930 [Grégoire, 1982a].
At the same time, however, population growth in the wider West African region increased the price
of meat relative to labor. Sahelian herds grew steadily--further adding to the tensions between nomads and
farmers [Konczacki, 1978; Crotty, 1980].xii Increased profitability of livestock ownership also led more and
more farmers to invest in herds of their own. These herds were not always given in custody to the nomads
following the traditional institutions. Thus emerged new contenders for water and grass with no linkage to
the pastoralist regulatory mechanisms.
Development policies with respect to livestock production in the Sahel have generally not countered
the above negative trends because they were often based on paradigms that did not stress the value of
flexibility with respect to natural resource use in arid and semiarid environments. Examples of paradigms
that underestimated the value of flexibility were sedentarization, group ranching, and the promotion of on-
farm integration of agriculture and livestock production. The majority of such well-intended development
programs have largely failed [Hogg, 1987; Sandford, 1983].
Sometimes nomads settle spontaneously and apparently voluntary. However, as shown by the "Cain
and Abel" model, any increase in transaction costs necessary to uphold nomadic property rights reduces the
value of flexibility and thereby induces the sedentarization of nomads, ceteris paribus. Thus, an apparently
"spontaneous" transition from specialized herding to farming need not be interpreted as an optimal
evolution but may represent a constrained, and impoverishing, response [Smith, 1978; McCown, Haaland,
and de Haan, 1979]. In general, sedentarization--spontaneous or as part of a resettlement scheme--has
produced negative economic, social and ecological effects, as the many attempts at sedentarization of
pastoralists in Africa show [Konczacki, 1978: 59].xiii
Other once-popular livestock sector projects included the establishment of ranches. The
development of ranching assumes that the local ecosystem is capable of supporting herds year-round when
19
these herds are confined to a specific territory. However, the limitations of the ecosystem to support cattle
on a permanent basis caused many ranching projects to fail or to resort to additional feed inputs by
importing grain or the by-products of certain agro-processing industries (e.g., cotton mills, sugar cane
processing factories, beer industries) from more southern regions at considerable cost [Crotty 1980].
The "integration" of crop and livestock production has also been emphasized as a preferred
agricultural policy. However, integration has nearly always been pursued at the farm level rather than from a
wider regional perspective. For the semiarid tropics, the importance of integration of livestock and crop
production at the farm level--the key factor in the transformation of European agriculture--has been largely
overstated [Breman and De Wit, 1983]. Such integration of farming and livestock production at the farm
level is often constrained by unfavorable combinations of agro-climate, soil conditions, population density,
and labor demands [Delgado, 1979]. The opportunity to keep livestock year-round on the farm--the potential
for sedentary mixed farming--is severely limited by natural fodder supply per unit of land in the Sahelian and
northern Sudanian regions.xiv Moreover, while potential feed supply per acre increases towards the south,
opportunity costs of feed production also increase because of the increase in land scarcity. Consequently, the
introduction of animal traction in the Sahel has not only suffered from very low adoption ratesxv , it has also
often failed to produce the expected intensification effects. Rather, being a labor-saving technique, animal
traction has led to area expansion [Jaeger and Matlon, 1990].
Given the agro-climatic conditions in the Sahel, increasing population pressure does not
automatically induce the transition to agricultural intensification and an increase in output per unit of land
as described by Boserup [1965]. Increases in population pressure, if not reduced by high out-migration rates,
may result in an expansion of cultivation onto marginal lands, thereby raising the opportunity costs of
grazing land. By increasing cultivation at the extensive margin, farmers encounter increased competition
with nomads. This induces a phenomenon known as "preventive" clearing. When the nomads are absent,
farmers "preventively" clear land in order to secure property rights, given that both nomads and farmers will
normally respect the security of usufructuary property rights. Upon their return, the nomads are confronted
with a fait accompli. Such encroachment by farmers is often backed by formal legislation. Niger's agrarian
reform of 1977 specified that fields left fallow for more than nine years were considered "free." The tenure
20
insecurity created by this legal reform led farmers to reduce fallow periods and embark upon strategies of
"preventive" clearing. We may think of this as farmers "gathering" fields for possible future use. Accelerated
environmental degradation and an intensification of conflicts between nomads and farmers were the results
[Thomson, 1982].
Above the farm level, however, the wider regional environment offers several opportunities for crop-
livestock integration--but integration based on economic exchange. Various traditional types of contracting
attest to the benefits of such exchange opportunities [Bromley and Chavas, 1989]. The widespread
phenomenon of farmers renting their cattle to nomads under a variant of the sharecropping contract is a
good example of an economic exchange based on the comparative advantages of the two production systems.
The nomad herds the farmer's cattle in exchange for a share of the outputs, usually specified in terms of
calves and/or milk. Informational and incentive problems are reduced under such sharecropping contracts.
Nomads profit from the increased access to capital, while farmers profit from a diversification of their assets
across ecological zones. Such investment opportunities are also highly valued by urban investors [Kintz,
1982]. Another type of contract is known as the contrat de fumure, under which a farmer allows the nomad
to graze cattle on the crop stubbles left after the harvest when the animals can no longer damage the crops,
in exchange for the benefits of animal manure. Outside of the growing season, both farmer and nomad
benefit from the establishment of a different set of property rights [Dahlman, 1980; Wade, 1992].
Some of the more recent pastoral policies attempt to restore indigenous common property regimes
by creating exclusive pastoral zones. "Territorialization" of pastoralists has been advocated by a number of
observers [Adams, 1975; Gallais, 1979]. However, typical pastoral property regimes were not defined in
terms of a specific territory. In fact, property regimes in line with the economic theory outlined above
enabled continual mobility without restricting nomadic groups to a particular zone. The delimitation of
pastoral zones, or the establishment of "group ranches" under territorially exclusive property regimes, does
not constitute an appropriate policy for resource use in the semiarid tropics. Empirically, such policies have
often been associated with overuse of the resource base, amplification of negative effects of drought periods,
and increased conflicts between nomads and farmers, among nomadic groups, and within nomadic groups
21
[de Haan, 1990; Little, 1987; Mortimore, 1989]. Moreover, such policies sometimes end up merely allocating
exclusive grazing rights to groups of sedentary farmers at the expense of pastoralists [Grégoire, 1982a].
The transfer of property rights over pastoral resources to the state--ostensibly to reduce conflicts
over such resources--often results in even more ambiguity and insecurity. For instance, the installation of
deep tubewells opened up areas previously too arid for grazing, but local pastoralists did not obtain property
rights to the new wells. Rather, the wells became state property, and quickly turned into open access
resources. New immigrants were attracted by the wells, and refused to abide by the old rules of the
traditional common property regimes. The "bore-hole paradox" was born: before the introduction of bore
holes, shortage of water precluded degradation of the grasslands, while access to water was subject to social
control. After the introduction of bore holes, grazing could continue for longer periods, while access to water
was deregulated and became effectively "open access." At the same time, herd sizes increased through an
increase in labor productivity: less labor was now necessary to water the animals. The combined effects
resulted in serious overgrazing of the areas in the vicinity of these wells, e.g. [Crotty, 1980; Kintz, 1982].
Equity, efficiency, and environmental sustainability strongly suggest that much can be gained from
the restoration of non-exclusive property rights to pastoralists, and from the (re)creation of property regimes
that allow for the exploitation of the comparative advantage of different production techniques in a regional
context. In particular, measures should be taken to reduce transaction costs associated with herd
movements within and across national boundariesxvi
.
5. CONCLUSIONS
Nomads and farmers seem to have been in conflict throughout history and throughout the world.
One Hebrew version of the Biblical story of Cain and Abel provides the first recorded clash between a nomad
and a farmer. In some respects, conditions today are not much improved. Conflicts between nomads and
farmers continually recur. However, next to conflict, complementarily is also a structural characteristic of
the dual economy represented by Cain the farmer, and Abel the pastoralist. The two economic systems
complement each other with respect to the exchange of outputs but seem to be continually at odds with one
another over inputs, especially over the control of land use. Without a fundamental change in development
22
policies for the Sahel, the gloomy scenario of Cain and Abel may be brought to its ultimate conclusion. Myth
and reality have already become dangerously close in the recent history of the region.xvii
Abel's problem is seen to be one of explaining to Cain that if the latter would claim exclusive
property rights, both would be worse off. In other words, Abel seeks to prevent a Pareto-inferior outcome.
We have argued that the prevention of such an outcome should also be the focus of current development
policies with respect to the agro-pastoral production systems of the West African Sahel. Policies should,
first, acknowledge the structurally different techniques that underlie the agricultural and pastoral systems,
respectively. Second, this recognition should then lead to the formulation of policies that further the
establishment of an institutional setting within which both sectors can flourish. In particular, the
acknowledgement of the structural differences in production techniques should have direct implications for
the formulation of improved property regimes.
23
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NOTES
32
Figure 1. Ex post utility of Abel--a nomad--under three mobility assumptions.
Source: see endnote 3.
33
Figure 2. The value of flexibility
Source: see endnote 3.
34
Figure 3. Choice of technology and property rights regime.
Source: see endnote 3.
35
i On the concept of flexibility and the economic analysis of risk in an intertemporal setting, see
[Dreze and Modigliani, 1972; Epstein, 1980].
ii Moreover, risk preferences have played a prominent role in economic studies that focused on
ex ante risk reduction, notwithstanding the difficulty of the direct measurement of risk
preferences. One advantage of the formulation of economic theory under temporal
uncertainty is that it establishes the value of information or the value of an adaptive strategy
under general risk preferences.
iii To simulate results, a computer model was developed using the matrix language Gauss. The
graphs that accompany the main text are based on this model.
iv The rainfall regime described above was simulated using Gamma
distributions. A random variable e has a gamma distribution with
parameters a and ß (a0 and ß0) if e has a continuous distribution
for which the probability density function
h(e|a,ß)= {ßa/G(a)}ea-1exp-ße for e0
0 for e0
The first and second moments are:
E(e) = a/ß
Var(e) = a/ß2
For the computer simulation (as presented in the graphs), a pattern
which was linear in E(e) and Var(e) with respect to movements along
36
the North-South axis was chosen.
v The transactions costs associated with mobility are assumed to take
the following form:
TC = d|x2-x1|
TC = transactions costs
d = transactions cost parameter.
vi Given a certain period 1 location, the expected value of the ex post utility function was
numerically calculated by an iterative simulation method. A logarithmic utility function was
used. Many of the results presented below will hold irrespective of the nature of risk
preferences.
vii For instance, nomads may sow some plots at the beginning of the rains and move north with
their herds in search of pasture, leaving the sown plots unattended until their return at the end
of the season. Alternatively, a section of the nomadic population may cultivate some crops on
valley-bottom lands during the short rainy season, while the other section accompanies the
herds on their seasonal movements.
viii In Botswana, comparisons with ranching show that the production of protein per hectare
under the traditional production system is significantly higher [de Ridder and Wagenaar,
1984].
37
ix At the same time, pastoralist mobility was the basis for the development of various long-range
trading networks. This is particularly true for the caravan trade across the Sahara with the
Mediterranean region, and the sub-Saharan trade with the southern savannah and forest zones
of West Africa.
x For instance, movements further south often led to increased taxation by the different farming
populations along the way.
xi Even in the rare cases where legislation seemed to favor pastoralist property rights, the de
facto enforcement usually favored the farmers. Thus, in Niger, all lands north of the
cultivation limit (approximate latitude 15° 10' north) were officially declared pastoralist zones.
However, this legal restriction did not prevent farmers from entering these areas in the 1960s.
They were: "...effectively supported by government administrators apparently unwilling to
carry out the legal restrictions on the northern limits to cultivation [Franke and Chasin, 1980:
98]."
xii Increases in herd size may have been a combined response to both relative prices and to the
reduction of flexibility of the pastoralist system. Several authors have argued that a large herd
size per se can function as a risk-reducing strategy. It constitutes an insurance in times of
excessive mortality induced by drought [Monod, 1975; Van Raay, 1974; Sandford, 1982].
Others argue that state-sponsored vaccination campaigns have also significantly increased
herd size, but that herds are now of a poorer quality, because of a decrease in natural selection
and an increase in overgrazing.
38
xiii For East Africa, Hogg [1987] shows that sedentarization of nomads around an irrigation
scheme had detrimental ecological effects. Moreover, the pastoralists who were settled closest
to the center of an irrigation scheme eventually ended up the poorest, while the pastoralists on
the fringes of the scheme were able to increase their wealth through a combination of access
to the irrigation scheme and continued access to the grazing areas on the fringes and outside
of the scheme.
xiv It is here that the fundamental difference lies between the West African savannah and the
high-altitude grasslands of East Africa, where population pressure often does induce a pattern
of intensification based on an on-farm integration of agriculture and livestock production. In
many regions of East Africa, such integration has far greater potential to be realized within the
same farming system, mainly because of better soils. Consequently, the agroclimates of the
East African high savannah and highlands have produced a whole series of societies whose
economic strategies were based on the integration of crop cultivation and herding. Thus,
typical "pastoralist" peoples of this region may in reality be more cultivator than pastoralist
(Oliver, 1992).
xv Many development programs in the Sahel have promoted animal traction by distributing
subsidized packages consisting of animals (cattle and donkeys), ploughs and weeders. The
subsidized access to animals has of course been very popular among the farmers of the region.
However, the actual use of the equipment, as measured by acreage ploughed and weeded, is
often very low, with the exception of certain cotton-growing areas.
xvi For instance, West African states should consider the adoption of a uniform and simple
taxation system. Even if the total tax load per animal remains unchanged, any reduction in the
39
mere number of different taxes and bureaucratic requirements would significantly reduce
transaction costs.
xvii The recent "wars between brethren" (viz. the violent conflicts between Mauritania and Senegal
and between Mali and Burkina Faso) were directly linked to the herder/farmer problem and
may serve as ominous examples. Touareg rebellions in Algeria, Niger and Mali erupted shortly
after we started work on this paper.
... Land use and resource conflicts between cultivators and herders and between different herding groups has long been a topic of interest in the development studies literature (Galaty, 2002;Haro, Doyo, & McPeak, 2005;McCabe, 2004;Turner, 1999;van den Brink, Bromley, & Chavas, 1995;Vedeld, 1998). We revisit this topic with a specific objective in mind; what needs to be understood about current patterns of conflict in the larger study area that is critical for land tenure programs seeking to resolve ambiguities in land use and resource claims and thereby reduce the risk of conflict? ...
... An additional set of qualitative data on rangeland governance and condition, land allocation and use, and tenure security was also collected in several of the communities via key informant interviews and focus group discussions (USAID, 2016). The proposed LAND development intervention is planned to take place at the grazing unit level of what is called a dheeda, which is an intact grazing ecosystem, containing both wet season and dry season grazing areas that are used by a relatively well-defined set of households. ...
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... A wide range of communal tenure systems implemented by pastoralists all over the world imply continually negotiated access within and across national borders, including in relation to climate change (Moritz et al., 2013). At the local scale, communal tenure systems have been acknowledged as being more rational and sustainable than exclusive property rights in contexts where income streams and resources are substantially uncertain (van den Brink, et al., 1991). In the thinking and vocabulary of property rights, the costs of exclusion may overcome the benefits of privatization when resources are variable and/or scattered (Baland and Platteau, 1996;Ciriacy-Wantrup and Bishop, 1975). ...
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After almost a century of interventions, poor understanding of pastoralism remains the most frequent cause of setbacks in pastoral development, often resulting in maladaptive practices that generate further misunderstanding in a vicious cycle. Acknowledging this weakness is a necessary first step that is routinely overlooked when practitioners leap into action. However, for a true understanding of pastoralism it is essential to be able to distinguish the features and practices that reflect its specializations from the effects of ill-informed policies and interventions, and pastoralists’ adaptation or maladaptation to them. This paper aims to engage FAO in the mainstreaming of pastoralism and present an evidence-based narrative on pastoralism for a specialist audience.
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The worsening violence between Farmers and Nomadic herdsmen in Nigeria has remained an issue of concern on the laundry list of the Nigerian State, policy makers, security agencies, International bodies as well as Social science scholars. While conflict is considered a normal and inevitable outcome of human relationships, the concern here is the devastating socioeconomic , political and environmental implications of the conflict between these two livelihood groups as well as its impact on national development. Whereas a number of factors have been adduced for this growing violence ranging from climatic transformations, deteriorating environmental conditions, desertification, soil degradation; political and ethnic strife; breakdown in traditional conflict resolution mechanisms; proliferation of arms in the country and a dysfunctional legal regime that neglects justice; this paper, relying on the demographic theory of conflict, demonstrates how population overshoot in Nigeria explicate the new violent and widespread dimensions of the Farmers-Herders conflict. This paper, relying on the Demographic theory of conflict, argues that among the various causes of the Farmers-Herders conflict, the exponential growth of Nigeria's population and the inability of the Nigerian State to meet the needs of the populace, contributes to the endless contest for space and property in the country, referred to in this paper as 'population induced warfare'. In line with this thesis, this paper recommends that Nigeria as a country should begin to pay serious attention to the costs and impacts of population growth and create accordingly, rights-based population policies that adapts Nigeria's population strength to a positive force for sustainable development.
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... When crop-livestock integration takes place within the same household, division of labor still allows for distinct specializations, 29 each one of the two operating at its own scale and only sharing the same space at certain times of the year. Even among farming communities, most grazing circuits in dryland regions extend beyond farmland and often beyond village lands (Landais and Lhoste 1990;Bonfiglioli 1990;van den Brink et al. 1995;Mortimore and Adams 1999). The Eastern Chad pastoral complex developed as a form of crop-livestock integration beyond the scale of the farm, between specialized farmers and specialized grazers at regional level (see Figure 2). ...
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Chapter
When a transaction is concluded in the marketplace, two bundles of property rights are exchanged. A bundle of rights often attaches to a physical commodity or service, but it is the value of the rights that determines the value of what is exchanged. Questions addressed to the emergence and mix of the components of the bundle of rights are prior to those commonly asked by economists. Economists usually take the bundle of property rights as a datum and ask for an explanation of the forces determining the price and the number of units of a good to which these rights attach.