Ben Ezechime, Enugu
Farmers in some Communities in Enugu State, South-East Nigeria, have cried out over the destruction of crops and forceful occupation of their farmlands by marauding herdsmen and their cattle.
In exclusive interviews with Ikengaonline, the farmers alleged that, apart from destroying their crops and farmlands, the herdsmen forcefully occupied their farms.
They also alleged that some of the herdsmen carry guns which always made it impossible for the farmers to confront them.
Mr Ugochukwu Amaechina, a notable commercial sorghum farmer at Opanda community in Uzo Uwani LGA, said a yet-to-be identified herders led their cattle to graze on his farmland, damaging his crops.
Amaechina, a Sorghum farmer under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda Support Program Phase One (ATASP-1), said he lost sorghum and maize crops planted in over four plots of farmland following invasion of his farm by herders.
He said: “Herdsmen destroyed my farm of over four plots. Three plots was exclusively sorghum while one was a mixture of Sorghum and maize. They destroyed the farmland beyond salvation.
“I feel so devastated because what they destroyed was a well developed farmland that I was trying to expand as part of the ATASP-1 efforts to promote sorghum cultivation in the state to boost food and nutrition.”
Amaechina said this was a big set back to him, adding that herdsmen had ruined the project being sponsored by the Federal Government and the African Development Bank (AfDB).
According to him, increasing number of farmers were fleeing the area due to heightened attacks by herdsmen.
“The Problem we have is that herdsmen don’t allow us carry out our legitimate farming activities in the area.
“I had earlier gone for peace talk with them to enable us farm and they gave me assurance that they won’t destroy my farm.
“Based on their assurances, I went to farm and two months after when the crops had grown, they led cattle into my farm, clearing the whole crops,” he said.
The commercial farmer disclosed that he lost millions of naira as a result of the damage.
He called for urgent assistance to enable him recover his losses.
“I am begging government to help us recover from what we have lost as well as provide us with safety to farm.
“Right now, it is no longer safe to carry out our legitimate business.
“There is the need for government to come up with an urgent solution between farmers and herdsmen to avoid the wanton destruction of crops and even human lives.
“The most painful aspect is that even when you meet them destroying your farm, you cannot drive them out because they are fully armed with Ak-47 riflle which they can use to kill anyone trying to stop them.
“So many people are relocating from the area because of this development,” he said.
In the same vein, a farmer from Eha-azuabor Community in Ehalumona, Nsukka Local Government Area, Mr Francis Eze, lamented the destruction of his crops and farmlands by gun welding herdsmen.
“They are everywhere in our farms destroying our crops on daily basis and you dare not confront them because they are holding guns,” he said.
Also, a farmer in Mbu Amon, in Isi Uzo Local Government Area, Mr Nwabueze Ugwu, decried the activities of the herders in the area.
“They have occupied all our farms, doing whatever they liked. Our people now fear to go to their farms for fear of herders’ attack and possibly being killed,” Ugwu said.
They called on the state government to provide security for farmers in the rural areas as their lives are in danger due to the menace of the herdsmen.