Those who invade state forests risk legal action
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THE nation was told last year that invaders had occupied a natural forest that is home to Hadzabe people in Singida Region.

The invaders were ordered by Mkalama District Commissioner (DC), Edward ole Lenga, to move out of the forest immediately. The DC ordered the invaders to move out of the conserved forest voluntarily short of which they would be arrested and prosecuted over illegal occupation of a conserved area.

The Hadzabe who still live in this forest have a lifestyle that is akin to that of wildlife. Mr Lenga said that the government will not tolerate seeing the invaders felling trees and burning the forest to clear patches of land for agriculture and livestock rearing.

This is bad news for the Hadzabe who subsist on wild fruits, tubers, leaves, honey and meat. But the year 2016 will also go down into the annals of history as a terrible one for livestock keepers and farmers. There were too many conflicts over land.

The livestock keepers needed land for grazing their cattle and the farmers wanted it for crop captivation. The government, under close supervision from President John Magufuli, resolved more than 690 land conflicts out of a whopping total of 1,378.

Land conflicts are a confounding scenario in this country. They cropped up anywhere nearly every day during the year. In urban centres, conflicts over land pitted developers against each other or the government.

In rural Tanzania misunderstandings over land often saw farmers square off for a fight against cattle keepers. Others triggered squabbles between investors and villagers. Land conflicts keep escalating despite state efforts to shoot them down.

Since the year 2004, for example, a total of 117 land councils have met to find solutions to 103,000 conflicts. Numerous other land conflicts remained unresolved during this period. These figures speak aloud about the magnitude of the problem, and in fact, this is the tip of the iceberg.

The Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Developments says that land councils are expected to handle a shocking total of 12,000 conflicts a year. Perhaps the bitterest conflicts over land pit farmers against cattle keepers.

In 2016 we heard a lot about battles erupting in this regard. Farmers keep complaining that the pastoralists’ animals ruin their crops and the cattle keepers charge that they have equal rights to land. It is imperative to mention here that we all need the presence of farmers in this country as much as we need livestock keepers.

While farmer till the land and grow food and cash crops, the cattle keepers produce the equally important cattle meat and milk.

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