Every week since June this year (2019), Resolute 4.0, a new technology deployed to track attacks by herdsmen on farmers and the resulting clashes, has been buzzing with alerts and records of violent clashes.
“Since launching it, alerts have come in every week, sometimes multiple reports,” said Rotimi Williams, who told BusinessDay he developed and deployed the technology. “What we are now beginning to work on is the response time and accountability measures to ensure no lives are lost anymore.”
Rotimi Williams, an agriculture entrepreneur whose 45,000-hectare rice farm has had (production) activities suspended for one and half year because of insecurity, developed the technology because of how insecurity has affected his own farm operations. Even in other locations with smaller land expanse within the area, production has been suspended. The reason is not farfetched. Rotimi’s farms are surrounded by communities where one form of herdsmen-farmer conflict or the other frequently take place.
“When you are surrounded by conflict, people use your farm as IDP camp basically because they will come and seek refuge,” said Rotimi in a recent interview. “They know it is a matter of time before that conflict spills over.”
Since the farms are surrounded by conflict, it increases the risk profile of the business and as such, Rotimi stated, “Nobody is going to give you funding.” He further explained, “If anything happens, your staff are on the move or you lose all your crops.”
For a big farmer like him, the insecurity is equally a big problem, but for small farmers, it also remains a big problem and not to be considered small in any way. “If we are going to talk about agriculture in any sense, security is the first thing that must be tackled,” he said, “These communal conflicts have to end. This farmer-herders issue honestly has to be brought to a stop.”
It is off the back of this that he founded ‘Resolute 4.0’, a technology solution to the farmer herder crisis. It focuses strictly on conflicts that affect food security, economic development, and national security.
What was supposed to be a pilot launch in June, ended up becoming the live launch of the platform. The launch is currently active in Plateau state but for security reasons, says he cannot be specific about the communities or people that it was launched with.
In launching the project, 10 smart phones were distributed with the technology on it, and according to Rotimi, they have been getting live panics within two minutes of an attack. Following the receipt of an attack, his team then investigates and notifies the military of the situation.
“There are pictures,” he says, and “we are getting live information from the communities, we know the response time, and the lag between responses.” Considering the level of impact being recorded from just 10 devices, Rotimi wonders how much more impact is possible if the system is scaled across different communities. “If we distributed 10 phones and we have this effective response, then imagine what a thousand phones will do in an entire state,” he said.
According to Rotimi, the first panic recorded on the platform came in on June 15, 2019, involving a school in Bassa LGA, Plateau state. The second came in on June 17; in-fact two came in almost simultaneously from Riyom LGA (in a two-minute interval), in an attack where one soldier was killed, as well as two civilians and 60 houses burnt.
“It was meant to be just a pilot, but has now been rolled out as the main project,” he said, explaining it was developed for the farmer-herder crisis but is scalable to other communal conflicts. All alerts gotten so far are farmer-herder conflicts, with one side attacking the other and then reprisal attacks follow.