Tanzania's ministry for agriculture, food security and cooperatives says that small-scale farmers produce more than 90 percent of the country's food. Of the country's 94.5 million hectares, only half - 44 million hectares - is arable land.
Of Tanzania's 42 million people, only 0.02 percent have traditional land ownership titles.
The disputes over land and water have also caused food insecurity among farmers, many of whom have been unable to harvest crops for fear of reprisals from enraged pastoralists.
On January 12, 2014, ten people were killed in Kiteto district in central Tanzania when Maasai pastoralists allegedly invaded villages in the disputed Embroi Murtangosi forest reserve and set homes ablaze. in December 2000 in Kilosa district, in the Morogoro region, where 38 farmers were killed. Hostilities reignited in 2008 and eight people were killed, several houses set alight and livestock stolen.
Experts say that these resource-based conflicts are also fuelled by ethnic hatred, dwindling resources, poor land management and population growth.
Yefred Myenzi, a researcher from the Land Rights Research and Resources Institute known locally as HakiArdhi, said that most of the fighting over land was the indirect result of decisions and actions taken by the state through its various agencies. "We have seen the influx of investors who take swathes of land to start commercial farming ranching or mining activities, in the process triggering conflicts with local people who are evicted from their land without due process," he added. He blamed the existing land tenure system for sidelining pastoral communities, since no land has been set aside for them. "Although land laws require every village to have in place a land use plan, many villages are yet to implement this due to conflict," he said.
Henry Mahoo, professor of agricultural engineering at Tanzania's Sokoine University of Agriculture, said that in order to resolve tensions between the two groups, a land use plan, which would clearly identify areas under pastoralists' ownership and those controlled by farmers, should be drawn up. "The problem [behind] these clashes is deeper than we think. All concerned parties must be involved in the negotiation process, and there must be a forum where farmers and pastoralists openly talk about their problems," he said.
Meshack Saidimu, a Maasai pastoralist in Mbalali, said that most of the disputes occurred because the government had not set aside areas for pastoralists. "I think we are being made scapegoats for all these problems. The Maasai are disciplined people, they don't just hurt somebody for the sake of it," he said.