This paper is based on a study conducted in Rufiji district in Tanzania, where farmer-herder conflicts have been reported. The purpose of the study was to examine smallholder farmers’ perceptions of the drivers of farmer-herder conflicts in view of adding empirical data to the existing political ecology and environmental/resource scarcity paradigms that explain the sources of such conflicts. The key respondents were smallholder farmers, agriculture extension workers, and ward executive officers in the Rufiji district. Primary data were collected using focus group discussions (FGDs), questionnaires, key informant interviews and non-participant observation. It was revealed that most farmers attributed farmer-herder conflicts to poor coordination in resettling in-migrants, corrupt tendencies among the local government officials, insecure land tenure, inadequacy of capacity of the local institutions, and sheer irresponsibility of the herders. The paper recommends that farmer-herder conflict resolution should not only be informed by resource scarcity paradigm but also by other socio-economic and political processes that perpetuate those conflicts.
Key words: Farmer-herder conflicts, smallholder farmers, local perceptions, political ecology, resource scarcity