Framing and conflict: the case of the Asante Akyem North district’s farmer-herder conflict in Ghana

Published date16 December 2021
Date16 December 2021
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Aggression,conflict & peace,Sociology,Gender studies,Gender violence,Political sociology,policy & social change,Social conflicts,War/peace
AuthorSabina Appiah-Boateng,Stephen B. Kendie
Framing and conict: the case of the
Asante Akyem North districts
farmer-herder conict in Ghana
Sabina Appiah-Boateng and Stephen B. Kendie
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore how framing of conflict in different phases is
constructed andhow the specific framing affects the developmentof the conflict and its management in
the farmerherderconflict in the Asante Akyem North District of Ghana.
Design/methodology/approach The study area is Agogo whichfalls within the Asante Akyem North
Districtin Ghana. The study used a qualitativeapproach whose philosophical ontologyand epistemology
believe that meaning is constructed(interpretivism). It further used a case study design using in-depth
interviews,focus group discussion and observation guide. Purposiveand snowball sampling techniques
were used to select the respondents. The data were analysed using the thematic analysis approach.
Ethical considerations suchas informed consent, willingness and anonymity of respondents were duly
Findings The findings highlighted that the conflict actors formed frames such as identity-relational,
affective-intellectualand negotiation-win frames as the drivers of the conflict.In this conflict, the farmers
who are indigenes and custodians of the land feel more potent over the transnationalmigrants who are
pastoralistsand argue that the herdsmen be flushed out withoutnegotiation.
Originality/value To the best of the authors’knowledge, this is one of the papers that bring to light the
psychologicaldimension of the causes of the farmerherderconflict in Ghana.
Keywords Framing, Resource conflict, Farmers, Pastoralists, Perception,
Sustainable development Asante Akyem North District, Ghana, Agogo
Paper type Research paper
Land is regarded as the most important resource for improving living conditions, economic
empowerment, and, to some extent, a source of ongoing struggles and conflicts around the
world. At various levels, all human lives and activities rely on land, either directly or
indirectly. A chief’s land size defines his power and authority in Ghana’s chieftaincy or
customary system (Gyamera et al.,2018). The land is also intertwined with the identity,
history and culture of the people (UNESCO, 2003b). The importance that one places on
various uses of land, and indeed on land ownership and land-based resources, is
dependent on Ghanaian society’s cultural perspectives. There are, however, a variety of
viewpoints that have affected societal attitudes, and they shift with time. As a result,
communities may easily mobilize around land issues, making land a prominent point of
Land-use conflicts are a common occurrence that can occur at any time or in any location
among various parties with varying land-use interests (Torre,et al., 2014;Wehrmann, 2008).
When land conflicts are related to largerprocesses of political exclusion, deprivation, social
discrimination, economic marginalization and a belief that peaceful action is no longer a
Sabina Appiah-Boateng
and Stephen B. Kendie are
both based at School for
Development Studies,
University of Cape Coast,
Cape Coast, Ghana.
Received 20 July 2021
Revised 25 September 2021
14 November 2021
Accepted 14 November 2021
The authors would like to thank
Mr Kow Kwegya Amissah
Abraham of the University of
Cape Coast for his critical
comments on the draft of
this article.
Funding: DAAD SDG Graduate
School, Performing
DOI 10.1108/JACPR-07-2021-0617 VOL. 14 NO. 3 2022,pp. 185-200, ©Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1759-6599 jJOURNAL OF AGGRESSION, CONFLICT AND PEACE RESEARCH jPAGE 185
viable path for change, land conflicts frequently turn violent. Regardless, land has diverse
connotations for different usage groups. Builders, manufacturers, fishers, miners, herders,
hunters and farmers, for example, have diverse land requirements for their products and
services. Agricultural production, arguably more than any other user group, has the highest
level of demand and expertise in its land usage. This reflects the continent’s massive
conflicts between pastoralists and farmers(Adisa, 2011). This was not the case in the past,
when these farmers coexisted peacefully owing to the mutual help they received (Moritz,
2010). Despite this, their coexistence was occasionally plagued by confrontations, which
were attributed to the manner in which the various parties carried out their activities (Little
and Horowitz, 1987;Raynautand Delville, 1997).
Fulani herdsmen and settled farming communities are involved in the majority of violent
farmerherder conflicts in Ghana. The Fulani are Ghana’s most powerful pastoralists
(Abbass, 2014). In the early 1920s and 1930s, Fulani nomadic herders from Niger, Burkina
Faso and Mali began migrating to Ghana in search of pasture, water and better economic
opportunities (Tonah, 2002). Therewere deep interactions and a cordial friendship between
these two groups of farmers. Many of these herders were also sometimes people hired and
paid by Ghanaian cattle owners. However, most of these hired herders did not always stay
for long periods in the community and so did not createproblems for Ghanaians, especially
crop farmers. Fulani herders today are found in practically all of Ghana’s agro-ecological
zones, and they are known to have brought their cattle from neighbouring nations in
addition to some taking care of cattle belonging to Ghanaians.
Violent clashes between farming villages and Fulani herdsmen have become prevalent of
this large-scale coexistence.In several parts of Ghana, a recent outbreak of violent conflicts
and retaliation between farmers and Fulani herdsmen has resulted in human deaths and
relocation. In places like Gushegu, Nangodi, Agogo, Dumso and numerous communities in
Atebubu/Amanteng and Pru districts in Ghana, security agencies have intervened to avert
conflicts. For example, in February2016, over 80 Fulani herdsmen’s cattle were slaughtered
by enraged youth in Dumso, Brong-Ahafo, in retaliation for the damage of farms by Fulani
herdsmen’s cattle (Stanley et al.,2017). Violent farmerherder conflicts have also been
reported in the Kwahu East Districtof the Eastern Region and the Sekyere Central District of
the Ashanti Region, accordingto recent media reports.
The farmerherder conflict in Agogo is the most violent and well-publicized. This is because
Agogo has fertile land, consistent rainfall and enough of pasture, making it ideal for large-
scale agriculture and animal production. This has attracted a number of farmers and cattle
owners who rely on Fulani herders. Throughout the year, the farmers cultivate a range of
food crops such as plantain, maize and watermelon for commercial purposes. These crops
have also been discovered to be nutritious for cattle and can be used as an alternative
feed, especially during the dry season. Since the 17th century, the townships in Asante
Akyem North area have been referred to as a theatre of resource conflicts between
sedentary farmers and nomadicherders (Boateng, 2015).
Boateng (2015) further illustrated the depth of effects surrounding the farmerherder
conflict in AAND. Women were raped, people were killed and maimed. Because of the
insecurity in the neighbourhood, others have lost their crops and cattle, and students have
had to drop out of school. In the media, the scenario is frequently referred to as the “Fulani
threat.” As a result, farmerherder conflicts are characterized as recurrent, and members of
the community are susceptible to an annual outbreak of violence. Farmers’ and herders
livelihoods are impacted as a result (Ghana News Agency, 2012;Ofuoku and Isife, 2009;
Olaniyan et al.,2015), necessitating long-term solutions to the conflict (Ghana News
Agency, 2012;Ofuoku and Isife, 2009;Olaniyan et al., 2015). For successful management
of the farmerherder conflict in Agogo, there is the need to find out how the actors frame
each other and how the framing influences interactions between the groups and the
ultimate effects on access to land and thus livelihoodimprovement.

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