Farmers At CAS Raise Alarm…Over Herdsmen Destruction Of Crops _Appeal For Govt Intervention
By Okereke Ogbonnaya Wilson and Nwogha Ndubuisi Andy
Over 20 Farmers on Tuesday 27th August 2019 have demonstrated their grievances and demanded state government attention as herdsmen destroyed over thirty plots of farm crops of their farmland located beside Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, CAS Campus is popularly known as CAS Agric farm.
Citizens’ Advocate reporter who visited the site gathered that the herdsmen usually guard their herds of a cow to a particular point and wait till evening when all the farmers had gone home before releasing their cows into the farm crops where they feed to their satisfaction.
Although there was no herdsman at sight when our reporter visited the scene, herds of cows numbering over two hundred were seen within the area and we learned that their herders were waiting for dusk to carry out their destructive activities.
We also gathered that the Fulani herders are always ready to attack the farmers at any attempt of farmers to stop the herds’ movement into their farm which was testified by one of the victims.
According to one maize and cassava farmer, Mrs. Eucharia Onah, “I have four plots of maize and cassava farmland here in Agric site, but I lost them all to Fulani herdsmen. They harvested my cassava and gave to their cows, and devoured my maize which was at the flowering stage.
On the day I met them at my corn farm, I tried chasing the cows away they started exchanging words with us and one of them stoned my belly for not allowing their cows to feed on my farm”
Another farmer, Mrs. Augustina Okpala lamented that her five plots of potatoes and maize were condemned by the Fulani cows, stating that she collected some loan in the hope of paying back after harvest, but woke up last weekend to meet her farmland destroyed beyond recognition.
She said that the farm is the source of her children’s school fees has left her hope dashed, stressing that in one of her attempt to chase the cows away from her farm, a herder emerged from unknown place and commanded the cows to chase her and the ill experience had left them to stand and watch each time they met the cows destroying their farm.
Another victim, Mrs. Nwachukwu Elizabeth told Citizens’ Advocate that they had reported their plight to one Alhaji who once visited the place in time past but after inspecting the farm crop and saw level of damage done to their crop, he said he knew the herdsmen and promised to stop them from grazing there.
He also promised to pay for the damage but all the promises never saw the light of the day.
Sharing her experience, Mrs. Victoria Okorie whose four plots of maize, two plots of potatoes were eaten by the cows explained that the herdsmen do boast that they have the right to graze their cows wherever they like, therefore should not be interrogated by the farmers whose farms are being affected.
Also, Mrs. Juliana Egbosiana, an aged widow expressed dismay that she had planted in her maize farm for three consecutive times of about six plots but regrettably never harvested any as it was destroyed or devoured by the cows either at a ripe stage of growth or point of flowering.
The aged widow bemoaned her fruitless efforts since her first planting season, noting that she had left her condition to God since all their effort to stop them from grazing at the farm fell on deaf ears, but was optimistic that their cry through our reporter would not be ignored by Ebonyi State Government to stop those Fulani herdsmen from adding to their hardship.
Others who spoke include Mrs. Ifeoma Nwaigboji, Madam Chioma Oba, a.k.a Mama Ejima and many others who lamented that they have lost over fifteen plots of crop farms and appealed to the State Government led by Engr. David Umahi to come to their rescue.
They were of the firm belief that the actions of the herders are intentional and provocative so as to frustrate their farming efforts.