By Anayo Okoli
UMUAHIA—SCORES of cows belonging to herdsmen invaded and destroyed a cassava farm at Olokoro, Umuahia South Council of Abia State, valued at hundreds of thousands of Naira.
The cassava farm located on two plots of land at Power Word Estate belongs to Deacon Steve Oko who was almost in tears while speaking with journalists in Umuahia, yesterday.
“The entire farmland now looks like a football field”, Oko lamented, saying that his decision to embrace farming early this year as part of strategies to survive the biting economic hardship in the country and also to enhance his economic base, has turned to sad story because of the activities of herdsmen.
According to him, he had planned to embark on some capital projects with proceeds from the sale of the crops by next year, but with the destruction of his crops, such hope had been dashed.
“Early this year when it became obvious that I could no longer depend on irregular salary for my ever- increasing financial needs, I decided to suppress my ego and go into farming.
“Part of the reasons I also embraced farming was because the cost of garri was almost unaffordable by the beginning of this year thus making cassava farming a very lucrative venture.
“Apart from my heavy investments in the farm, I was personally involved in the farming activities. I was drenched by the June/ July rains while working on the farm. My motivation was the promising bumper harvest of a blossoming farm.
“But my hope is now shattered. My calculation was to embark on one major project very dear to me by 2018 with proceeds from the farm,” he lamented.
Cows have turned the two plots of land into a grazing field”, Oko further lamented.
He said besides from cassava, other crops on the farm including coco-yam and pumpkin, which he said were also destroyed by the cows.
Oko explained that he had already petitioned the Abia State Commissioner of Police Abia, Mr. Anthony Ogbizi, who doubles as the State Chairman of Farmers/Herdsmen Conflict Resolution Committee.
Oko disclosed that other farmlands around the vicinity were also destroyed by cows and demanded that the herdsmen be made to bear the full responsibility of their action.
“It is hard to reconcile that in a democracy government and security agencies will watch herdsmen use their flock which is their private business inflict loss on other farmers.
“It is unacceptable. That is why some people agitate for their own country so that they can defend their people against external aggression. We are truly under siege by herdsmen who now destroy our crops with impunity.
“When we complain they say with should not take laws into our hand. How long shall we continue to live in bondage under the guise of one Nigeria? Can you imagine an Igbo man using his flock to destroy crops in Sokoto or Kano? I tell you his kinsmen in the entire North will be made to suffer for the consequences of his action”, Oko said.