Saturday, February 24, 2024

Rice farmers lament herdsmen’s destruction of 35,000 hectares of farmland in Enugu

Enugu farmers have raised the alarm over herdsmen’s destruction of 35,000 hectares of rice farms.

• January 30, 2024
Governor Peter Mbah and herders
Governor Peter Mbah and herders

A group known as the Enugu State Graduate Farmers (ESGF) has expressed dismay over herdsmen’s destruction of its 35,000 hectares of rice farm.

The farmland is at the Ojoloko Farm Site at Umuiba, Nara, in Nkanu East LGA.

Some farmers in Enugu said on Tuesday that cattle destroyed all their investments in the farmland.

They complained that the bank that lent them money was now after them for repayment.

ESGF president Patrick Mba noted that the herdsmen would go to the farm at every harvest, eat up their rice and set others on fire.

According to him, ESGF has lost billions of naira, and up till now, Sterling Bank has been chasing some of them around because they owe them.

“We are those farmers trained by the Enugu state government during the tenure of former Governor Sullivan Chime. We started farming at Adani in Uzouwani LGA, but when the farm was handed over to another company, we relocated to Nara, where we presently have over 50,000 hectares of land.

“We cultivated 35,000 hectares of rice, both certified seed and paddy rice, since 2020, and in 2021, we borrowed money and did the farming, but when we were about to harvest, cows ate 80 per cent of the rice. They are in our farm on Sunday and Monday grazing and setting the rest on fire,” Mr Mba said.

He added that they did not confront them but reported the matter to security agencies like the SSS and Amagunze Police Station and even informed the police commissioner and the Enugu government.

“We have been invited for a meeting once, but after the meeting, the herders came back and did worse. We are appealing to the government to help us stop them from entering our farms as well as organisations to come to our aid as most have lost confidence in farming.

“Since 2020 we started, we have lost all that we planted worth N1.5 billion, but this year’s experience was much,” he said.

Another farmer and leader of a farm cluster, Chukwudinka Ezeihu, described the attack as destruction.

He explained that when they were expecting a quantum of yield from the rice they suffered to farm, they would wake up and see the farm destroyed by herdsmen.

“This year alone, we have lost billions of naira. How do we pay people who invested their money in the business? When we sent out videos of the destruction early this January, I made a statement at the Amagunze Police Station, where they gave us someone to mediate between farmers and herdsmen.

He said the herdsmen agreed to compensate them for the destruction.

“How can they be telling somebody who had lost over N1 million that he is going to be paid N200,000 as compensation,” he asked.

Corroborating him, another farm cluster leader, Emeka Ugwuja, said, “If you go to the police there now, you will see five different complaints on the same issue. Most families are already leaving their houses. My own farm is valued N10 million. They are negotiating to pay compensation of N500,000.”

“Government should please chase those herders from the agrarian community as our means of livelihood have been affected,” he appealed.


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